Red Sox management has already attended baseball’s General Manager Meetings aka Black Friday, to see if there were any bargains out there, but came home empty-handed. With the shopping days until the opening of spring training down to about 72 days, it’s time to search the internet starting with Cyber Monday for some vital gifts for next year’s team.
The biggest decision the Red Sox have to make is whether to get involved in baseball’s version of a ‘Yankee Swap,’ most likely not with the Yankees, concerning Mookie Betts. The problem with throwing their all-star right fielder into any kind of swap/trade is not getting fair exchange no matter how many gifts/players/draft choices are offered. But they will get more in a trade now than if they wait to trade Betts during the season if, in fact, they decide to trade Betts.
The other option concerning Betts is hoping that owner John Henry leaves a blank check under the Christmas tree to sign Betts to a long-term deal. That is likely not going to happen with John Henry’s encouragment to cut payroll this season. So new Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, you might be on your own to deliver the gifts this year.
So what exactly is on Bloom’s list of gifts he is hoping for this holiday season? Filling out the pitching rotation has got to be near the top of the list. Rick Porcello and his four-year, $21 million per year contract is over and it certainly appears that he will be pitching for another team in 2020.
Red Sox nation is used to seeing their team’s needs filled simply by going out and writing a check for a free agent. If that happens this year it is going to have to happen on Cyber Monday with a big bargain. The team has a few options already on their 40-man roster, options who may turn into ‘openers,’ rather than starters.
Bloom, in Tampa last year, utilized an ‘opener’ instead of a fifth starter for the Rays. An opener is a pitcher, usually a relief pitcher, who would start the game and go an inning or two. He would be followed by a starting pitcher who might normally be a fifth starter. This strategy would make it easier for a team to get into the fifth inning or maybe even the sixth inning instead of possibly draining the bullpen sometimes as early as the third inning. This would certainly be a Cyber Monday type deal.
The Red Sox presently have on their roster three options for a fifth starter, all of whom last year made about the Major League minimum of $555,000. All three are journeyman: 28-year-old left hander Brian Johnson and two right handers, 29-year-old Ryan Weber and 31-year-old Hector Velasquez. Those three pitchers last season combined to make 18 starts. More bargain basement acquisitions can be made ala Cyber Monday deals to throw into that mix.
Just as important as filling that fifth starter/opener role is adding quality to the bullpen. This might be a very tough acquisition to be made on Cyber Monday, because there are just not that many bargain deals to be had and nearly every General Manager is on their laptop ready to pounce on that deal.
The Red Sox also could use a reliable second baseman. The front runner appears to be 22-year-old Marco Hernandez, who last season played 48 games at second base. Michael Chavis, who last year played 60 games at second base, can fill in as 31-year-old utility man Brock Holt and his nearly $4 million salary will probably not be brought back.
So we are going to find out a lot about Chaim Bloom and his shopping habits over the next two and a half months. While the shopping has already begun, the search for a good deal will be as crazy as potential brides storming Filene’s Basement when the Wedding dresses go on sale.