As the news broke that Joe Kelly signed with the Dodgers and the Red Sox would need to fill a spot in the bullpen, Adam Ottavino’s name almost immediately came onto the radar as a potential new reliever. As the Winter Meetings have passed and nobody’s signed him, there have been several reports suggesting Boston is indeed actively pursuing the 33 year old.
Jon Morosi from the MLB Network, for instance, tweeted out that the Red Sox are “showing continued interest” in Ottavino and Jon Heyman says he and David Robertson are “high on Red Sox list of back-end relief targets.”
While Ottavino’s gained a lot of attention the last few days for saying he “would strike Babe Ruth out every time,” he’s put up some decent numbers to back up his confidence and the interest in signing him. He had 112 strike outs over the course of 77.2 innings (1.44 per inning) while only giving up 25 runs (21 earned) and having a .991 WHIP during the 2018 campaign. Plus, Ottavino has had a great slider for years but recently added a sinker which greatly increased the percentage of grounders hitters get off him and limited the number of homeruns he’s given up (he only allowed five in 2018 compared to the eight he allowed in 2017 despite pitching 24 less innings).
With all that being said, there’s no guarantee Ottavino will end up in Boston. Not only are the Red Sox considering other bullpen options, but other teams are actively looking at him as well. Joel Sherman of the New York Post, for instance, reports Brian Cashman from the Yankees has met with Ottavino’s rep and David Zurisin claims the White Sox were “nearing [a] deal” — though last week Zurisin said the “deal should be announced this weekend;” something that clearly didn’t happen.
No matter what happens with Ottavino, the Red Sox are smart to be in the discussion for one of the top relief pitching free agents. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.