Trading Tanner Houck Would Be A Mistake By Red Sox
There has been speculation all off-season about the Red Sox potentially moving Tanner Houck in a trade. Although some may think trading him is the best option to secure a potential replacement for Xander Bogaerts without significantly impacting the current minor league system. We must consider Houck’s talent and pay closer attention to his value for 2023 and beyond. Let’s take a closer look.
Versatility is Key to Houck’s Success In The Short Term
As we know, Tanner Houck is capable of playing multiple roles. He has seen success as a starting pitcher and reliever who can help the team late in ball games. His ability to transition between these two is invaluable for a team looking for a pitcher who can take on varying workloads.
Before his back injury last season, Houck’s success as a reliever showed he is comfortable in this role and could provide value if given an opportunity as a set-up man behind closer Kenley Jansen. He can potentially play the role of a valuable pitching swiss army knife for Alex Cora in 2023.
The Injury Risk of The Red Sox Veteran Pitchers
Kluber, Sale, and Paxton are all veteran pitchers with injury histories the Red Sox will need to rely on going into 2023. Kluber has missed chunks of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons due to arm and shoulder issues. Chris Sale had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and broke his finger last July pitching in the Bronx.
While Paxton has only pitched 21.2 innings since the end of the 2019 season and did not pitch at all in 2022 due to Tommy John surgery recovery and a late-season Lat tear. Having this trio as your starting rotation certainly carries a lot of risk going into 2023.
Houck’s Value as an Insurance Policy
This is where an asset like Tanner Houck comes into play. With the experience of both starting and relieving, he can provide valuable pitching depth going into the season if needed.
Even if none of the veterans suffer major injuries, Houck still provides Alex Cora an option if a starter doesn’t last long or gets rocked early on in their outing. Which were not uncommon occurrences for Boston’s pitchers last year.
If you are fortunate enough to have such an asset already locked up on their roster, why trade it away? They would be wise to keep him around as an insurance policy for a rotation that could end up in disaster.
I View Tanner Houck as The Closer Of The Future
In his brief stint as closer in 2022, Houck showed he has what it takes to succeed in the late-inning role. He has an impressive arsenal of pitches, including a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider that can make hitters look foolish. You also have someone who is able to stay calm under pressure and isn’t afraid of big moments or tough situations.
He is cool and collected on the mound, never getting too high or too low after any particular pitch or situation. His composure speaks volumes about his mental toughness and ability to thrive under pressure, which are key qualities for any successful closer.
He Can Get Even Better
Houck has been impressive since his debut in 2020, even more than you probably think. His 3.02 earned run average in 146 big league innings is tremendous, and his 2.95 FIP definitely validates that point.
Keeping Tanner and allowing him to continue growing as a pitcher is the best bet for the Sox when deciding what to do with their roster this year. The truth is Boston has struggled to develop reliable homegrown pitchers over the last decade, and pitchers like Houck don’t grow on trees in baseball.
He’s also under team control until at least 2027, and I only see him getting better as he matures and becomes more comfortable with his abilities. Give him the opportunity to grow as a member of the Red Sox.
Overall, I believe Houck provides invaluable depth on what looks like an uncertain pitching staff this season and potentially down the road—and should not be traded away lightly, given all that he brings to the table. It’s something you could end up regretting down the road.
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