For some, Monday’s trade deadline deal bringing reliever Addison Reed to the Red Sox was a necessity to strengthen a wobbly pen. For others, the price of three shiny 22-year-old potential Addisons Reed was more than they expected Boston to pay. However, with two of the three relievers Rule 5 eligible at the end of the season, was there more to Dombrowski’s deal than meets the eye?
The soon-to-be 23-year-old Jamie Callahan is the closest to the majors, pitching with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox prior to being traded to the Mets. The right-hander was drafted in the second round of the 2012 First Year Player Draft out of the South Carolina prep ranks and spent his first three seasons in the starting rotations of the GCL Sox, Lowell Spinners, and Greenville Drive. But after a disastrous 2014 – where he went 3-13 with a 6.96 ERA and a 1.868 WHIP – and six more poor starts to begin the 2015 season (0-3, 9.14 ERA, 2.077 WHIP), Callahan was converted into a reliever. Jamie was mediocre in 2016 for Salem, with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.386 WHIP in 36 appearances out of the pen, but he bolted out of the gates for the AA Portland Sea Dogs this season. In ten appearances, Callahan accumulated four wins and two saves while yielding only two runs over 13 innings. He was quickly promoted to Pawtucket, where he fell back to relative mediocrity with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.414 WHIP over 29 innings. Callahan has had his best season with the strikeout this season, whiffing 56 over his 42 frames (12.0 K/9).
22-year-old Gerson Bautista signed his first contract in 2013, but missed the entire season due to a failed drug test. The right-handed fireballer – who reportedly tops out at over 100 mph with his fastball – was in the rotation of the DSL and GCL in his first two seasons, where he produced a 5-4 record over 25 games. In 2016, Bautista was converted into his current relief role, going 1-4 with six saves over 23 appearances for the Lowell Spinners and the Greenville Drive. Overall, Bautista probably had his best season to date, with a 2.55 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, and 36 strikeouts in 35 ⅓ innings. This season, however, he has struggled against the competition in the High-A Carolina League. In his 27 relief appearances, Bautista has regressed to an ugly 5.16 ERA (6.55 RA) and a 1.809 WHIP thanks to 54 hits in 45 ⅓ innings. He has also given up a career high 28 walks, as well as ten wild pitches. However, he has also had his best season with the Ks, with a 10.5 K/9 average.
The final 22-year-old in the package is another right-hander, Stephen Nogosek, who was drafted out of the University of Oregon in the sixth round of the 2016 Draft. After getting his feet wet last season with 20 games in Lowell and Greenville, Nogosek was placed in the role of closer for the Drive to begin 2017. In his 23 relief appearances for Greenville, Nogosek produced two victories and 13 saves while producing an 2.55 ERA and a 0.991 WHIP. He was promoted to Salem where he has taken over the role of closer from Bobby Poyner and Trevor Kelley – both of whom were promoted to AA Portland. In his 13 outings with the High-A club, Nogosek has picked up two more victories and six more saves with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.415 WHIP. Nogosek has found the increased competition a bit tougher, however. In 35 ⅓ innings for the Drive, the righty struck out 45 and walked only 11. In 17 ⅔ innings in Salem, Nogosek has already walked 10 while whiffing 18. He also has been gopher prone this season, with seven of the 39 hits he allowed going out of the ballpark.
Both Bautista and Callahan are Rule 5 eligible at the end of this season, and neither pitcher was likely to be protected from the draft by being placed on the Red Sox 40-man roster. The Red Sox current 40-man roster is unofficially at 47, with Josh Rutledge recently becoming the seventh player to reside on the 60-man DL. With the addition of Reed, the Red Sox have 27 pitchers on their 47-man roster – a list that includes relievers Austin Maddox, Kyle Martin, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, and Ben Taylor – each of whom have ridden the PawSox shuttle to Boston multiple times this season. The Red Sox will also need to make Rule 5 evaluations on upper-level pitchers Jalen Beeks, Trey Ball, Jake Cosart, Ty Buttrey, Taylor Grover, Dedgar Jimenez, Chandler Shepherd, Josh Smith, Teddy Stankiewicz and newly returned Rule 5 draft pick Justin Haley, as well as 40-man decisions on potential minor league free agents Jacob Dahlstrand and Williams Jerez in the offseason. To state the obvious, the Red Sox are flush with potential relief options in the upper minor leagues – the Red Sox are not going to be able to stash them all.
Is three relief prospects too much to give away for two-months of Addison Reed? In a vacuum, perhaps. However, the trade calculus has to take into account the potential of both Bautista and Callahan being snagged in the upcoming Rule 5 draft with nothing but a pittance of money in return. In that light, the Red Sox traded the potential of $100,000 and Stephen Nogosek for a very good reliever in a tight pennant race. That seems like a pretty good deal.