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Kyle Barraclough to Boston? Why it makes sense for both sides

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Add another suitor to the list of teams interested in the Marlins closer.

Tampa Bay Rays v Miami Marlins
Wouldn’t be the first time Barraclough has worn red on the mound!
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Previously reported to be a target of both the Dodgers and Indians, Kyle Barraclough has been linked to yet another contending team. According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Red Sox—owners on Major League Baseball’s best record this season—sent one of their top talent evaluators to watch the Marlins closer dominate in person.

Although there are plenty of relief options on the market this summer, Barraclough is among a small handful of pitchers who meet Boston’s high standards:

“They’re not just looking to get an eighth-inning reliever’’ an evaluator for a competing club said. “They’re looking to get a guy. A real guy.’’

Perhaps in the short term, the Sox would use him to set up Craig Kimbrel. However, Kimbrel will be eligible for free agency next winter, so the ideal fit would have the potential to fill his shoes in the ninth inning in 2019 and beyond. Barraclough is controllable through the 2021 season via arbitration.

Crasnick goes on to question whether Barraclough can handle the “hyper-intense pressure in the Boston market.” The right-hander has spent all four of his major league seasons in laid-back Miami.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For what it’s worth, Barraclough’s career performance has been extremely similar in Marlins Park compared to on the road. In particular, many would consider Citi Field (Mets) and Wrigley Field (Cubs) to be “hyper-intense” environments. Barraclough owns a 2.16 ERA with 19 K in 16.2 IP at those two venues combined.

The Marlins continue to suggest that there’s no urgency to trade Barraclough prior to the July 31 deadline, but they may feel differently internally for a couple reasons.

First, the massive discrepancy between his 1.34 ERA and 3.55 FIP this season. Barraclough has been the beneficiary of a comically low .146 batting average on balls in play. His lifetime BABIP entering 2018 was a much more ordinary .290. The perception that he’s pitching better than ever is the key to his strong trade market, but that perception could change between now and the offseason if his luck normalizes.

Second, holding onto Barraclough and continuing to utilize him as closer would dramatically inflate his earnings. The old-fashioned arbitration process still puts a premium on save totals. The Red Sox understandably would prefer to acquire him now and stick him in the eighth inning, where despite similar results, he’d have less leverage when negotiating a 2019 salary.

Now, to the other side of the equation: Does Boston have enough young talent to win a bidding war against other desperate contenders?

The organization’s No. 1 prospect Michael Chavis just recently returned from a PED suspension (batting .208/.345/.500 through seven games). The third baseman turns 23 next month and projects to be ready for a significant major league role by next season. Even if the Fish overlooked his rules violation, it would take additional prospects to get this done.

Over the Monster’s Matt Collins points out that right-hander Denyi Reyes is breaking out in a big way at the Low-A level (103.2 IP, 1.91 ERA, 13 BB, 105 K). Throw a more advanced pitcher like Mike Shawaryn into the mix and the Marlins might be tempted to sign off on the deal.

Those departures would leave the Sox with arguably the weakest farm system in baseball, but an improved shot to win a ring in both 2018 and 2019. Meanwhile, Miami flips the once-unheralded Barraclough into three future major leaguers (albeit players with questionable upside).

Poll

If the Marlins were offered 3B Michael Chavis, RHP Mike Shawaryn and RHP Denyi Reyes in a trade for Kyle Barraclough, should they do it?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Yes
    (427 votes)
  • 30%
    No
    (184 votes)
611 votes total Vote Now

Of course, Fish Stripes will continue monitoring all Marlins-related trade buzz as the deadline approaches.