June 13, 2024

Craig Breslow Red Sox new challenge

Report: Red Sox still ‘plan’ to trade closer before deadline

Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen frequently found his name in the rumor mill all throughout the winter as the club reportedly fielded offers on the veteran in the run-up to Spring Training. No deal ultimately materialized, but that doesn’t mean the team has shifted gears.

As relayed by Bob Nightengale of USA Today on Sunday, the Red Sox still “plan” to trade Jansen before the trade deadline, with Nightengale adding that the club isn’t interested in bringing him back for the 2025 campaign.

Report: Red Sox still 'plan' to trade closer before deadline

It’s not necessarily a surprise that the Red Sox would still have interest in dealing Jansen given their efforts to shop him this winter. Boston is currently at .500 with a 26-26 record that places it 10 games out in the AL East, making the club passing the Yankees and Orioles for a division title appear unlikely at best.

The club’s odds at a Wild Card spot are somewhat better, as it sits just 2.5 games back of the Twins for the third spot, but Boston has shown a willingness to deal rental pieces even while on the fringes of playoff contention in recent years, such as when it traded away catcher Christian Vazquez at the 2022 trade deadline despite a 52-52 record.

Report: Red Sox still 'plan' to trade closer before deadline

As for Jansen, the 36-year-old has posted a solid season for the Red Sox to this point with a 3.24 ERA and a 2.59 FIP with eight saves in nine chances across 17 appearances. On the other hand, Jansen’s 13.9% walk rate is surely concerning to potential buyers even in spite of the righty offsetting it with a strong 29.2% strikeout rate.

Those control issues, combined with Jansen’s hefty $16M salary this season, could make the veteran righty a less attractive piece to clubs in need of relief help than other alternatives who would be unlikely to boast Jansen’s track record but could come with better peripherals and less of a financial burden.

Speculatively speaking, outfielder Tyler O’Neill could be another piece the Red Sox make available in the event they sell this summer given his status as a pending free agent. O’Neill got off to a scorching start in April with nine home runs in 21 games but has crashed back to Earth in the month of May, hitting just .151/.244/.301 over his last 82 trips to the plate.

O’Neill added some context to his recent struggles following an incident during yesterday’s game where his knee collided with the Green Monster in left field, causing him to leave the game due to soreness.

O’Neill told reporters, including The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey, after the game that his knee had already been bothering him prior to last night’s incident and that it has “probably” affected his swing, although he remains day-to-day and it’s unclear if he’ll require a trip to the injured list. Rob Refsnyder and Garrett Cooper could be among the players to take over O’Neill’s spot in the lineup should he miss time due to the issue.

 

Also dealing with injury issues is right-hander Bryan Mata, who is out of options but has yet to make his big league debut due to a hamstring issue that’s kept him from playing this season. The righty recently began a rehab assignment in the minor leagues, but that assignment hit a snag on Thursday when he began to experience some soreness in his lat.

As noted by MassLive’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox initially believed the soreness to be in his shoulder and his lat, but Mata has since clarified that he’s only feeling an issue in his lat.

Smith notes that manager Alex Cora indicated to reporters on Friday that Mata is “likely” to be pulled from his rehab assignment, a move that could kick the club’s decision on Mata’s future further down the road. Mata can only be on a rehab assignment for 30 days before the Red Sox must either recall the righty to the big league roster or designate him for assignment, but that clock will reset if he’s pulled from his rehab assignment and begins another one at a later date.

Mata has made just 12 appearances across all levels of the minors since the end of the 2022 season but looked excellent across three levels of the minors that year, pitching to a 2.49 ERA in 83 innings of work.

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