Boston Red Sox Wishlist this Holiday Season

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox debuted one of the worst pitching staffs in the Major Leagues in 2020. The lack of depth may be too big of a hurdle to overcome in just one offseason but pitching of any kind will certainly be at the top of Chaim Bloom’s wishlist this winter. Outside of starting and relief pitching help Bloom will be in the market for a second baseman and someone to fill at least one outfield spot. After Trevor Bauer there are not many top-end starters on the market this winter. The Red Sox may not get everything they asked for this year but will certainly take a big step in deciding the direction of the franchise.

Top-End Options

Trevor Bauer

After getting Mookie Betts off the books a year ago the Red Sox have a lot of money to spend this offseason and have a clear need for a front-line starting pitcher. Trevor Bauer is the best of the bunch and according to Sportrac will likely command at least $20 million per year after winning the National League Cy Young Award. Chris Sale will miss most — if not all — of the 2021 season and Eduardo Rodriguez missed the entirety of 2020. 2019 was the best season of his career but it would be a far cry to say it’s a lock he’ll replicate those numbers in 2021.

This isn’t a typical move Bloom and the Tampa Bay Rays would’ve made so it’s easy to dismiss it based on the supposed strengths of Bloom when it comes to identifying young, cheap pitchers. However, Bloom now has the luxury of an organization that has the money to go sign players like Bauer.

The only hesitation on signing Bauer would be the team’s confidence in J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Michael Chavis. If they don’t believe they’ll bounce back after poor seasons in 2020 it might be worth saving their money and spreading it throughout the whole roster.

Whit Merrifield

The team may be more willing to spend big money on a pitcher or in the outfield since second base is likely lowest on the totem pole in terms of needs, which is why D.J. LeMahieu isn’t featured on this list. LeMahieu would cost the team upwards of $20 million per year similar to Bauer and it’s not worth giving that type of money to a position where you have bigger needs elsewhere.

Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals is an interesting option, however. Merrifield is set to make $6.75 million in 2021 for a Royals team that appears to be willing to take phone calls on him. He is a career .295 hitter and led all of baseball in hits in both 2018 and 2019. Merrifield is also durable playing in every game in each of the last two seasons.

Boston would likely have to give up their top outfield prospect Jarren Duran, but it would be worth it to bring in Merrifield on such a team-friendly deal, allowing Bloom to address other issues on the roster.

Marcell Ozuna

Marcell Ozuna is among the same class as George Springer and Michael Brantley as the top three outfielders in this winter’s free-agent class. He makes the most sense for the Red Sox at this point, however. Ozuna is coming off a season where he finished sixth in the National League MVP voting and hit .338 while leading the National League in home runs and RBI. He is the youngest of the group at 30 years old and could be the potential DH of the future if Martinez doesn’t stick around much longer. Martinez is coming off the worst season of his career and is set to make $19 million in 2021 with a $19 million player option for 2022. If he makes it through the season without getting traded there may be an opening at DH where Ozuna could fill in nicely.

As for the future of left field if this hypothetical came true, Duran is projected to arrive in Boston in late 2021 (assuming he’s not traded) according to SoxProspects.com. In the meantime, however, Ozuna likely wouldn’t cost as much as Springer and would be capable enough to handle left field at Fenway Park.

Ultimately, any of these three players would be a fit now that it seems Jackie Bradley Jr. won’t be returning to Boston.

Lower Risk, High Reward

Jake Odorizzi

If Bauer doesn’t work out Jake Odorizzi is likely the next best option. Odorizzi is coming off the worst season of his career with a 6.59 ERA and only appearing four times after a multitude of injuries kept him out of the rotation. Even after such a poor season his career ERA sits at 3.92 and averaged 186 innings pitched between 2014 and 2019.

Odorizzi alone wouldn’t come close to solving the team’s issues in the rotation, but he could likely be the team’s number two starter by the start of the season. According to Spotrac his market value is about $14 million per season. It’s also worth noting that he, along with Bloom both have history together in Tampa Bay; Odorizzi pitched there from 2013 to 2017.

Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber is a low risk, high reward type of player at this point in his career. At the height of his dominance between 2013 and 2018, he won two American League Cy Young Awards and placed in the top three four times. During that span, he had an ERA of 2.96 with a WHIP of 1.045.

Kluber, 35 at this point, won’t command the same money as Odorizzi will. This, paired with the fact that he has appeared in only eight games over the last two seasons. Sportrac has the former ace’s price tag right around $6 million, comparable to pitchers like Rick Porcello, Tyler Chatwood, and J.A. Happ.┬áIt can be tough to speculate what the exact market values of players will be this year due to COVID-19, however. The potential upside with Kluber could be worth the gamble. He finished third in Cy Young voting as recent as 2018.

David Robertson

David Robertson is another player who missed all of last season after recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Robertson signed with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2019 season but had also been linked to the Red Sox. He would fit the immediate need of any capable relief pitcher the team can get their hands on. According to Spotrac, Robertson is estimated to be valued at less than $5 million.

At his best, Robertson was flashing a 1.08 ERA and receiving Cy Young votes in 2011. Now heading into his age 36 season, he’s compiled a career 2.90 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and nearly 12 K/9. The team could certainly explore more expensive options on the market. Alex Colome, Blake Treinen, Kirby Yates, and Brad Hand remain available. At this point though, it seems like the Red Sox need as many arms as they can get their hands on as opposed to one guy that will put them over the top.

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig is yet another player who did not play in 2020. Puig signed with the Atlanta Braves ahead of the restart but never played a game after contracting COVID-19. The Red Sox are among a handful of teams who have shown interest in the outfielder. Puig would come on a small-money contract; this would allow the Red Sox to truly dive into their real issue and address the pitching staff.

Puig is a career .277 hitter and can hit 25 home runs a year on average. Outside of his rookie season, he has never flashed in one particular category. He’s not an absolute hack at the plate, can hit 20-plus home runs, can steal 15 bases, he has just been a very solid player in his career. Again, the risk remains that he won’t return to his normal self after missing an entire season. At the money he will likely command, however, it’s worth taking a look.

It Can Only Go up From Here

It’s tough to say which direction the team will go in this offseason. The lack of top-end starters makes it tough to truly turn around the pitching staff. The lack of value in their existing trade pieces will make it tough to go get young prospects. The team does have money to spend, however. There are a lot of uncertainties moving forward, but this team certainly won’t look as bad as 2020.

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