…but where are the Boston Red Sox?
Yes, I know, Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has been tasked to slash payroll. So he isn’t about to hand out 324 million dollar contracts to anyone, no matter how prolific a player/pitcher they may be.
Thus far, the Sox’ moves have consisted of outrighting to AAA their third catcher from September, Juan Centeno; adding 5 guys to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft; designating pitcher Brian Johnson for assignment, then outrighting him to AAA once no one claimed him (big surprise); non-tendering infielder Marco Hernandez and pitcher Josh Osich (then re-signing them to lesser deals); trading backup catcher Sandy Leon for someone light years away from the majors and losing reliever Trevor Kelley on waivers…oh and wait! As I blink, they just selected a 21 year old Double-A SS named Jonathan Arauz in the Rule V draft!! Wow…and now I blink again and infielder Jose Peraza is in the fold too!!
The biggest names have just recently signed: Stephen Strasburg re-upping with the Nationals, Gerrit Cole with the aforementioned 324 mil from the Yankees and Anthony Rendon cashing in with the Angels.
A lot of the lesser names have signed as well. Kevin Gausman, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, Didi Gregorius, Howie Kendrick, Drew Pomeranz, Tanner Roark, etc.
Not that the Sox need any of those guys in particular. But a little bit of a slow start to the offseason, no doubt.
I guess I shouldn’t worry all that much. There are still plenty of bodies out there. Then again, also not a ton of good ones either.
On top of that, Bloom’s best track to improve the team may be by trades. Actually, that is his best move to shave salary. Not sure he’s going to get much for most of his trade options.
For example, rumors abound that other teams may be interested in David Price since his price tag looks a lot cheaper compared to some of the silly contracts being thrown out in the last couple of weeks or so. But those rumors also say that either the Sox would have to eat some of that cash, or “throw something of value” along with Price in order to clear that contract. There was some mention of outfielder Andrew Benintendi being that “something of value”. Benny had a subpar year last year. But is young and presumably has room to grow still. So throwing him in a deal to clear other salary seems a little steep. Then again, the farm system is bare. So what minor leaguer would be “something of value”? Would they actually trade one of their few good prospects, whoever they are?
Example #2: Rumors also abound that the Sox are “aggressively shopping Jackie Bradley Jr.”. It’s about time. But about three years too late. Who’s going to give the Sox anything for a guy who can’t hit, but will make 8 figures next year through arbitration?
Unless the Sox try to trade Mookie Betts, which I have been in favor of if he truly does not want to re-sign here, or inexplicably deal someone like Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers, how much will they get in return for ANYONE in a trade?
I’m actually wondering if the Sox are seriously considering dealing Betts this winter. I don’t think they are, to be honest. Not necessarily a bad thing. But it won’t be great if he walks for nothing next offseason. A trade deadline deal cannot be ruled out. But if the Sox are in contention at the deadline, how can they deal him then?
Unless this is a true “bridge year”. But how can that be true if Betts, Bogaerts, Devers, J.D. Martinez and Benny return in that lineup? Sure, the pitching staff is more than suspect. But how can this group of guys not be at least competitive?
Not to mention if Bloom walks in here and they AREN’T in contention at least somewhat this season, he will not be a popular man around town. Not without divulging some sort of future plan…which you know he will not.
The way the 40-man roster stands now, with its current 38 players, there are holes all over the place. Even if those stud players mentioned above stay and produce, pitchers like Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi (& Price?) rebound and contribute, the fact remains that there is all kind of dead weight still from those guys on down to the end of the roster. Not to mention several minor leaguers that aren’t ready for prime-time.
Also…please don’t try to sell us on Dustin Pedroia playing 120-130 games at second base next year either. Actually, don’t even get me started on Pedey here right now. You all know how I feel about him. Great career here, feisty little player over the years, lost some respect for him in recent years with his behavior, but in the end, he is simply done due to injury and it’s time to go.
So let’s get to work Chaim. More than Arrauz and Peraza for sure. At least maybe re-sign Rick Porcello back to that one year deal he wants to try to reset his value. He was brutal last year. But at least he takes the ball every 5 days. More than you can say for most of the rest of the starters still here…oops…shortly after I wrote this, Porcello inked a one year deal with the Mets. Oh well…
Changing gears a smidge:
In one more piece of recent Red Sox news, Dwight Evans had a renewed chance to make the MLB Hall of Fame the other day as he appeared on the Modern Baseball Era ballot.
This committee meets “twice every five years” and covers players, managers, umpires and executives from the 1970-1987 time frame. It gives everyone in this period a second chance at the Hall basically.
But does everyone actually deserve a second chance at the Hall?
I am not so sure.
The Modern Era’s first enshrinements were Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in 2017. Then the “Today’s Game Era” (1988-present) committee put in Lee Smith and Harold Baines in 2018. The winners this year the Modern Era put in Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller (Players Association head).
Are ANY of these guys Hall of Famers??! I’d say perhaps Miller since he led the charge for collective bargaining agreements, free agency and arbitration. But none of those players are Hall of Famers. They just aren’t.
And that includes our old friend Dewey Evans.
Evans was a very good player. Better in the second half of his career than the first. Piled up almost 400 homers and 2,500 hits. And I had no idea until recently that he had more homers in the 1980s than ANY other player.
Those are all nice. But did anyone buy a ticket to watch Evans play baseball?
We did for Pedro. We did for Roger (he WILL get in someday, and you know he belongs). We did for Teddy Ballgame (well, not me, I wasn’t born, but you get the point).
I am not even sure Yaz is a Hall of Famer. But people that watched him play in his early years swear by it. And presumably bought a ticket to watch him play.
Not for Dewey.
Loved the guy when he wore the Sox uni. But not once ever did I think he was a Hall of Famer.
And now, with all of these recent dudes getting in, Cooperstown is getting so watered down, it’s kind of disheartening.
Do we put Evans, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, etc. in because Baines is in? It’s trending that way.
Evans got 8 of the 12 votes he needed for induction on this committee (75% of the 16 members). And was next in line behind Simmons and Miller.
Does that mean he is a lock when they reconvene in 12/22?
Say it ain’t so.
You’ll hear more ranting from me soon in my annual Cooperstown column. But that’s all for now.
But is it a bad thing?
Well, it sure as hell is right this second. Unless you love you some Clay Buchholz as your #1 starter. And Joe Kelly as your #2. And from the collection of Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Rubby de la Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Steven Wright and several others, your #3-#5.
Some of the latter names, as well as some kids not mentioned, may well turn out to be great major league pitchers. But they aren’t close right now. So when you spend jillions of dollars to beef up your lineup with the Fat Panda and Hanley Ramirez, the pitching staff should follow suit, no?
But I am not panicking yet.
Listen, I have said all along I wanted Lester back and would have overpaid to do just that. Although I’ve never considered him a true ace and under normal circumstances, I would not in a million (pun intended) years give him a 6-7 year contract for 150 mil plus at the age of almost 31.
But as I have also explained, these are not normal circumstances. Look at the rotation names above. That’s pretty much all you need to see.
Too late now. It actually may have been too late once the Red Sox management, in their infinite wisdom, decided to start the negotiations at 4 years, 70 million back in the spring. Look how close that was. Fair negotiations are one thing. Lowballing is another. Being total morons are completely another.
Bashing the ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, however easy it seems to be to do, is somewhat difficult for me actually. After all, these guys have brought Red Sox fans THREE World Series Championships in the last decade. After having none for 86 years. Can’t really complain about that.
But you have to wonder about them sometimes. That initial offer to Lester is laughable, these days even for a back end rotation guy it seems. No less a guy that has come through your system, helped win 2 of those World Series’ (not to mention being lights out in them), overcome cancer while here, also has overcome the whole “chicken and beer” smear and blah, blah, blah. These guys are businessmen, I get it. They are trying to negotiate a deal that works in their favor, while also hoping that Jonny would give them the ol’ “hometown discount” (banking on something that Lester himself had said he would likely consider).
Sometimes you just have to ante up though. Pinch your pennies elsewhere. If they anted up in the spring, Lester may have signed for something along the lines of 5/100. Once he had the great year and generated a ton of interest, that price obviously went up. 5/100 would have been reasonable. 6/155 that the Cubs gave him is downright stupid. But also necessary, based on the market this winter. If the Cubs get 4 pretty good years out of that, the deal is likely a good one for them. Curious to see what triggers the 7th year at 15 mil. A little excessive, if you ask me. But the Cubs didn’t, so whatever.
I actually think that Lester wanted to return here. He left them in the loop until the end. And in the end the Sox offered 6/135. Jon wasn’t leaving 20 mil (potentially 35 mil) on the table for sure, so he moved on. Can’t blame him for that. On top of that, makes you wonder if the Sox owners actually wanted him here in the first place. Starting with the lowball offer last spring. Along with the fact that they absolutely could’ve come up and matched the Cubs offer. But they didn’t. Yeah, yeah, yeah, John Henry went down and met with Lester and talked legacy and all that stuff. I’m thinking right now though that it was all for show. Make the Sox fans believe they tried to sign him and make them look good.
I’m not buying “the recruiting” right now myself. Listening to Ben Cherington talk today and him saying stuff like “we went as far as we could go” and “we were looking for more dialogue, but we didn’t get it”. Makes me want to vomit. Are people really going to buy this crap? I guess Ben is just reading off the script the trio gave him. But still…
Anyway, back to the “not panicking” comment.
It’s December. Still plenty of time to mold the roster for April. Still plenty of available players, both free agents and through trades. The Sox have plenty of “assets” to deal.
I’m not ruling out a run at Max Scherzer either. Yes, he would be more expensive than Lester. And he is about the same age. Scott Boras represents him. All of that. But he is probably the better pitcher overall. He has pitched pretty well in the postseason as well. Would be a true #1 ace. Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting it. But it wouldn’t surprise me. Since he will be out there for a while since that is how Boras does business, it may depend on how desperate the Sox get.
I think they will investigate other (read: cheaper) options first however. I was screaming for them to deal some of the kid pitchers LAST offseason. They had plenty with good prospect rankings. And they had yet to be potentially exposed in the majors to that point. But they didn’t make deals. Of course then some of them were exposed in the majors a little last year…and not in a good way. Hopefully all the shine is not off of all of them for good however.
They also have a glut of position players on the roster. OK, so I am not necessarily counting guys like Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks & Allen Craig. Or even Daniel Nava or Brock Holt…who are nice pieces, but aren’t exactly going to bring you an ace back…or anyone close to that.
But they have Yoenis Cespedes to start. Even with only one year left on his deal, and sure to command big dough after that, he should bring you a significant return. Then you can try combinations of others to make something work. I’m not interested in trading guys like Blake Swihart, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts or Henry Owens. But if someone blows you away, all bets are off. Everyone should be available for the right price.
I’m also in favor of building a great bullpen. Overpaying for relievers is much different than overpaying for starters. The back end consists right now of Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Edward Mujica. Maybe Brandon Workman goes back to the late innings in 2015, where he had so much success at in late 2013. This is a nice start, but a lot more work needs to be done here. As silly as that Andrew Miller contract was, I probably would’ve signed him for that (4/36). Sox can afford it if he washes out. Guys like Luke Gregerson and David Robertson are no longer available. So to get an impact reliever, the Sox may want to act fast in this area…for free agents anyway.
But there is time for the rest. Let’s see what happens and then we can judge it when all is said and done.