The last two offseason have been very loud with big name signings for the Boston Red Sox, bringing in big names at high prices.
Two winters ago, the club signed Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. While both struggled mightily in their first season in Boston, Hanley rebounded with a big season in 2016, while Sandoval did not play a single game, making his contract look worse every waking minute. Last year, the Sox brought in perennial Cy Young candidate David Price to a seven year $217 million dollar contact. Price was up and down, finishing the year strong before losing yet another playoff game in the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.
The much maligned signings have put the Sox near the top of the league in payroll, and with so many young stars needing to be resigned soon, there may not be room for another big free agency addition. However, this is Boston, and in a city always looking to win, there is always room for another big name free agent.
With the departure of David Ortiz, there is a big hole in the middle of the lineup. The Red Sox have been linked to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (even though it appears Boston is no longer in the running for Encarnacion), both of the Toronto Blue Jays. However, with a lineup already loaded with right-handed batters, adding another one to the fray wouldn’t make a lot of sense, especially with Joey Bats and Encarnacion getting up there in age.
Ideally, a left-handed batter would be inserted into the lineup, but there aren’t many to choose from in this year’s crop of free agents. Maybe Kendrys Morales would have been ideal, but he signed with Toronto. The potential suitors remaining are certainly far from ideal. Carlos Beltran may be the best left-handed hitter on the market, and after that it’s Colby Rasmus and Brandon Moss. With clearly no great options, the Sox should just stay put. As it stands, the Sox are likely looking at a lineup dominated by righties, while looking to see if Yoan Moncada is ready to play third base, while shifting either Travis Shaw or Hanley Ramirez to the DH spot.
As for the starting pitching, after David Price and Cy Young winner Rick Porcello…yikes. Steven Wright’s magical first half took a turn for the worse, while Eduardo Rodriguez was a roller coaster all year long, much like Clay Buchholz has been the last four years, including 2016. The Drew Pomeranz deal didn’t work out like Dave Dombrowski had hoped. A third quality and reliable starter is definitely a need for this club. With Price being a lefty and Porcello being a righty, the Sox can target both righties and southpaws.
The market for middle-of-the-rotation pitching is much more deep with better options. While Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson are on the older side, both are proven MLB pitchers who would be an instant upgrade in the rotation, all while not breaking the bank. Another option is Cubs free agent Jason Hammel, who is coming off one of his best seasons ever. Doug Fister is also a free agent, and is younger than the previous pitchers mentioned. There are a number of other quality options for the Sox if they desire.
For as good as this team was last year, there is still a lot of room for improvement and upgrades. The starting pitching has been problematic since 2014, and the lineup doesn’t have holes as much as it has awkward fits and an abundance of right handed bats. Dave Dombrowski is notoriously aggressive, but this is an off-season to be savvier and money wise than getting another big name.
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