The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are currently competing for the services of Toronto Blue Jay Reliever Scott Downs. According to AOL FanHouses’ Ed Price, both teams have demonstrated “big-time” interest in the soon-to-be free agent Southpaw from their division rival.

Downs has actually been on the block for some time as Toronto continues a virtual fire sale they began when Roy Halladay was dealt last year. Last week SS Alex Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Braves. Catcher John Buck is reportedly on the block as well, and Boston has been suggested as a possible destination.

Downs joins fellow Toronto Relievers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor as possible targets for contenders needing a boost out of the bullpen, but as the most effective of the three, Downs is obviously garnering the most interest.

Aside from shuffling around the walking wounded, Boston Manager Terry Francona’s greatest dilemma this year has been bridging the gap between his excellent starting rotation and his All-Star closer.

Outside Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard, the Red Sox bullpen has been as great a weakness as it was once a great strength. The lefty setup man Hideki Okajima, the resurgent Rule-Five pick Ramon Ramirez, and the local flamethrower Manny Delcarmen haven’t lived up to their former selves.

While the Red Sox called up Michael Bowden and added him to the pen this week, they will need to find relievers via trade if they are to assemble the arms necessary for a postseason run.

Downs is one of the best available options. This year, Downs has put up a 2.56 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP over 38.2 innings of relief work. He’s achieved ratios of 6.98 K/9 and 1.86 BB/9.

Downs is concluding a three-year, $10 million deal and has a $4 million 2010 salary.

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