Offseason Chatter…Already?!

Didn’t the World Series just end?  Sure did.  Never too early to look at next year, I say.  Especially for the team that just won the World Series.  Several of the Boston Red Sox’ World Series “heroes” are now free agents.  Anticipation is already building on what the team plans on doing with those particular guys.  Several key players on the team are also due up over the next couple of years as well.  It’ll be interesting to see how all the chips fall.  So let’s start thinking about it!

As for the budget, the Sox were up against the luxury tax this past season.  Not sure exactly where they stood on that luxury line.  But I do know that they apparently couldn’t stomach a potential call-up of the immortal Rusney Castillo this summer, he of the 10 plus mil yearly salary that has done next to nothing when given chances in the majors.  Now, Castillo is not a difference maker.  But he could have helped.  He had a pretty good year in Pawtucket.  But the consensus was that he did not get recalled because his huge salary would put them into a significant penalty regarding the luxury tax.

That’s kind of unacceptable for a team in a major market that can clearly afford it.  But that’s kind of where I am going here.  I have a feeling that the Sox pare some payroll in the next couple of years.  Especially after the World Series victory.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  The Sox will spend PLENTY of money.  Some guys will depart, sure.  But some dudes are due significant raises.  And again, those aforementioned players whose contracts expire soon need to be dealt with.  In any event, I feel like the gap over the second place team as far as payroll goes won’t be as huge as it was this past season.  Just a hunch.  Let’s face it, it’s an opportune time for ownership to slash payroll a bit if they wanted to…what with them coming off a championship.

The 40-man roster presently stands at 34.  The end of the year tally was 44…with 4 players on the 60-day disabled list that didn’t count.  We will account for all 44 in this piece.  If they want to protect any prospects from the Rule V draft, they will have to do so by November 20th.  But, as we said last offseason that since Dave Dombrowski has basically traded all their prospects, they may not have to add anyone.  They will add players of course, and maybe there is someone of note.  But I am not going to pretend that I know who they are.  Well, I mean, I know who they are.  I just don’t know if they are required to be added to the roster this offseason or in some future year.  Free agency has technically started and even if the Sox sign several players, there will be room to add any youngster they want to the 40-man.  Still some deadweight among the 34 and we will get to that.

So let’s take a look by position group to see who the Red Sox currently have and what they potentially could (should?) do.

Starting pitchers (9):

Here:  William Cuevas, Brian Johnson, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Chandler Shepherd, Hector Velasquez, Steven Wright.

Free Agents:  Nathan Eovaldi, Drew Pomeranz

Minors:  Justin Haley

Obviously, Sale, Price, Porcello and E-Rod are the main four here.  Johnson, Velasquez and Wright spent a great deal of 2017 in the bullpen, but are technically starters.  Either way, they are cheap depth, so they will probably be around next year as well.  Velasquez may actually still have options, so maybe he can go back to Pawtucket if needed.  Shepherd has spent his entire career in the minors as a reliever until he started every game he was in for the PawSox last year.  But he’s 26 and since he has never pitched in the majors, I am not sure anyone is counting on much from this dude.  Haley was on the 40-man at the end of the year but was outrighted to the minors a few days ago.  Guess no one claimed him on waivers.

The way Major League Baseball is trending, with “bullpen games”, the Sox technically don’t have to do anything here next year.  WHAAAAAAAT???!!  WHAT ABOUT EOVALDI??!!  Nate Eovaldi has a special place in my heart for the way he pitched in the postseason this year.  He always will.  Especially that relief appearance in Game 3 of the World Series…in a game they actually lost.  What an effort though.  A guy with past arm trouble and free agency looming could have easily begged out of that game at any point…even at the beginning, seeing he had pitched in relief the first two games.  He didn’t and became somewhat of a legend.

But give him 15-20 mil a year for 4-5 years?  I’m not so sure about that.  Seems like a risk.  Past arm problems.  But more importantly, past mediocrity.  44-53, 4.16 career heading into his age-29 season.  Love the guy to death.  But I think I am passing.

I’m definitely passing on Pomeranz.  Speaking of past mediocrity.  That being said, wouldn’t shock me if the Sox re-signed him to a short deal to see if he can regain his 2017 form.  He may want the change of scenery, however, especially now that he has that ring.  Plus, some team could absolutely overspend for a lefty arm.  And probably will.

One thing to keep in mind here:  Sale and Porcello are free agents after 2019.  What do you do?  Both are heading into their age-30 season.  Free agents at 31.  Porcello has been bad to serviceable to good in Boston.  Of course the Cy in one year.  But are you handing him another 20 plus mil per after next season?  I didn’t think so.

Sale?  Ugh…if this shoulder/arm thing is real, and I believe it is, then do you give him a fat deal at age 31?  I’m not sure I do with him either.  If healthy?  Absolutely.  But I think there could be a real issue there, despite the Sox brass telling us there is nothing to see.

I’m not sure this is in the cards, but I’m not ruling out a trade among Sale, Porcello and…Price?  Sure.  Price just locked himself in for another 4 years.  But did the postseason performance open up a door for the team to legitimately unload that contract?  Do we want to?  I think I do.  I’m grateful for his playoff performance.  But I’m still tired of his act.  I’m open to anything.  And I think the Sox should be too.  If one of those guys are traded, they may well hand out a horrible deal to Eovaldi…or some other mid-level starter.

If I had to guess, however, the Sox open up with the aforementioned 4 and have any of the rest of the guys fight for the 5th spot…along with another cheap veteran or two.  Eovaldi prices himself out of town.  Or rather, other teams price Eovaldi out of town.  And Pomeranz tries to find his stuff again elsewhere.

Relief pitchers (9):

Here:  Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Austin Maddox, Bobby Poyner, Robby Scott, Tyler Thornburg, Marcus Walden, Brandon Workman.

Free Agents:  Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith

WE NEED TO BRING MACHINE GUN BACK!!  NO WAY WE CAN LET HIM GO!!  Yes, we can.  Another postseason “hero” that will have a special place in my heart.  But Joe Kelly is an average pitcher at best.  A guy that throws 100 mph and for the most part doesn’t miss any bats.  Great postseason run and we are all grateful for that.  But let some other stupid team overpay for that performance.

Kimbrel is likely gone as well.  He won’t accept that 1 year, 17.9 mil qualifying offer the Sox offered him.  Some other team will give him dough and term.  He was up and down in a Sox uniform…ok, he was mostly up, but made us chew our fingernails quite often.  Unhittable in 2017.  But shaky in the 2018 postseason.  And that’s what we will point to as we watch him go.

For the record, Smith won’t be back either.  Injured and generally useless while he was here.  But it also doesn’t help when you blame your manager for your troubles…especially when your manager wasn’t the one who got hurt throwing their glove in the dugout.  Then missed the last several months of the season as a result.

So what does that leave?  Not much.  Scott and Walden make up some of the deadweight we talked about earlier.  Poyner is a lefty.  Maybe he has promise, maybe not.  Maddox is slated to miss all of 2019 after having rotator cuff surgery.  Hembree and Workman are end of staff filler.  Not to be trusted when it counts.  Thornburg?  Please.  He pitched 3 times after September 1st.  He wasn’t good when he came back from his injury, but I’m still waiting for someone to talk about his inactivity down the stretch.  Has been nothing but crickets there.

That leaves us with Barnes and Brasier.  Brasier has no track record, can we really trust him going forward?  Barnes is inconsistent, but he’s the best guy left.  YIKES!!

You have to believe that this is where the most work will need to be done this offseason.  Bringing in all kinds of arms and see what sticks.  Impact arms?  I’m not sure.  I doubt they let Kimbrel walk and then sign a big-ticket closer.  Same perhaps for Joe Kelly and middle relief/set up options.

Maybe sign a Fernando Rodney-type guy (ouch) to close and also give Brasier or Barnes the opportunity to close as well (double ouch!).  And perhaps some proven veteran relievers coming off a down year (is Andrew Miller a free agent?  Think that type).

In any event, I think volume will be the name of the game in the bullpen, instead of quality.  With bullpen arms being unpredictable every year, this actually may be the proper approach.

Next:  The offense.

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About mpdenton

I am a passionate and life long fan of the local teams...and by local I mean New England. I remember the days of Ray Bourque, Larry Bird, Steve Grogan and Wade Boggs...meaning I have lived the highs and lows of the Boston sports scene. With all this pent up Boston sports emotion, I clearly have a lot to say about the local teams and sometimes about sports in general. Maybe even the Revolution... I appreciate you reading my blog and hope you enjoy my rants.

Posted on November 6, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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