Help Wanted: Red Sox Seeking Bullpen Arm and Power Bat
By Peter Santo
The Winter Meetings are finally upon us, and the biggest news to come out of the Red Sox camp today didn’t even involve a player. The news of the day for Red Sox fans was that Dave Dombrowski elected to exercise John Farrell’s option for 2018.
Now that we know who the manager is going to be, let’s focus on the players who will help the Sox compete for a title in 2017.
The world was watching as the Indians and Cubs staged a World Series battle for the ages this past season. Coincidentally, those teams had the two best relief pitchers in baseball, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.
The Red Sox have an excellent reliever of their own anchoring the back end of the bullpen in Craig Kimbrel, but they need other pieces if they expect to repeat as AL East champs next season.
The Red Sox could go the incumbent route, but that would mean guys like Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross Jr., and Carson Smith (who’s coming off Tommy John Surgery) logging significant innings. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
While Kelly and his 95-100 MPH fastball have potential in the bullpen, Ross is mediocre at best and who knows what we’ll see from Smith once he’s healthy.
The Red Sox have options here, they could break the bank for Chapman or Jansen, but with Mark Melancon setting the market with his $60 million+ deal with the Giants, I’m not sure Dombrowski wants to shell out $75 million for a reliever. Additionally, doing so might anger Kimbrel, which we want to avoid.
They could also look for some cheaper options. Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara could be re-signed on short term deals for little money, but both are past their prime at ages 37 and 41 respectively. Other options in this range include JP Howell and Greg Holland.
Dombrowski could pull of a deal similar to the one involving Wade Miley last offseason. In this scenario it would be Clay Buchholz who would be dealt. Would a package of Buchholz and a couple prospects be enough to land Royals closer Wade Davis?
The other glaring need for the Red Sox is that of a middle of the order bat. In case you haven’t noticed, David Ortiz retired, so the Sox have a .315, 38 HR, 127 RBI season to replace. That’s no easy task.
Boston was reportedly linked to Carlos Beltran and Matt Holiday, but both have signed elsewhere. With the Astros and Yankees signing Beltran and Holiday respectively, along with the Blue Jays signing Kendrys Morales and Steven Pearce, the market appears to be dwindling for Edwin Encarnacion.
The Red Sox were rumored as a player early on in the Encarnacion sweepstakes, but reportedly backed off when Encarnacion asked for a five-year $125 million deal.
However if you can get Encarnacion for around say three years, $75 million, I think that’s a deal worth doing if you’re Dombrowski. Cheaper options would include old friend Mike Napoli, who underwent a resurgence last year with the Indians, and former Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez.
However the big blockbuster is always in play when talking about the Red Sox, so giving up the entire farm system for Chris Sale, Nate Jones and Jose Abreu isn’t out of the question. A similar deal with the Tigers for Justin Verlander, Francisco Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera is also possible.
Look for the Sox to stick with cheap options this time around after ponying up $200 million for David Price last offseason. Heck Rich Hill just got $48 million after pitching for the Long Island Ducks less than two years ago. The top free agents just aren’t there this offseason, everyone is being overpaid, hopefully Dombrowski doesn’t fall into that trap.