Boston’s Kimbrel to DL with Knee Injury; Newly Acquired Ziegler Could Take Closer’s Role

Late Friday night, the Boston Red Sox pulled off a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire established closer Brad Ziegler for a pair of prospects. Ziegler, a sidewinding right-hander, should add significant depth to Boston’s bullpen.

To acquire the 36-year-old Ziegler — who has recorded 81 saves in his nine-year career, including 48 in 52 opportunities over the last two seasons — the Red Sox parted ways with Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe, a minor-league pitcher and infielder, respectively. Catcher Blake Swihart was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Ziegler on the team’s 40-man roster.

The Red Sox lost reliever Carson Smith to Tommy John surgery in June, so the move to acquire a quality reliever to serve as a set-up man was fairly anticipated. Ziegler was initially expected to take a set-up role alongside Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara.

The idea that Ziegler, Tazawa, and Uehara would bridge games to Kimbrel will require alteration, however. On Saturday, the team announced that closer Craig Kimbrel will be out until at least August while recovering from knee surgery. The hard-throwing righty has been diagnosed with a medial meniscus tear in his left knee and will undergo a procedure to repair it. The procedure comes with an estimated recovery period of three-to-six weeks. Boston placed Kimbrel on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday and recalled reliever Noe Ramirez from the Triple-A Pawtucket to fill his spot on the roster.

Kimbrel, who received his fifth All-Star team selection less than a week ago, has a 3.55 earned run average and a 1.09 WHIP across 34 appearances out of the bullpen for the Red Sox this year. In those appearances, Kimbrel has a 1.09 WHIP and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10:3 over 33 innings pitched.

With Kimbrel out, Ziegler would fit well in the vacated closer’s role. Should the team opt to do so, Tazawa and Uehara — along with Ramirez, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Tommy Layne, and Robbie Ross — would precede Ziegler in the bullpen.

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