Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins
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Report: Red Sox interested in Fernando Rodney

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Twins closer Fernando Rodney has landed on the Red Sox’ radar this summer, according to a report from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The club is reportedly looking to deepen their bullpen reserves in advance of a push for the postseason, and Crasnick points out that GM Dave Dombrowski has more than a passing familiarity with the reliever from their time together on the Tigers.

The 41-year-old Rodney hasn’t looked himself lately — and that’s a good thing. He recorded 18 saves in his first 23 save opportunities this year, paired with a respectable 2.97 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 across 30 1/3 innings. While Rodney’s durability and effectiveness might be due for a more significant regression over the next few years, he figures to be one of the more affordable arms on the market this year and could give the Red Sox an easy way to spruce up an already-dominant crew.

It also helps that Rodney wouldn’t be thrust into the kinds of high-leverage situations he’s facing with the Twins, given that fellow right-hander Craig Kimbrel has been pretty well established as the team’s closer over the last three years. The Red Sox’ relief corps currently ranks third among AL teams and fifth in the league overall with a collective 3.24 ERA and 3.6 fWAR — totals that could still use a little boost from Rodney’s stellar 2018 campaign. Naturally, Rodney isn’t the only potential setup man under consideration; the Red Sox have also reportedly been asking around about Orioles left-hander Zack Britton and Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias, among others.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?