It’s Christmastime in Boston, which means that MLB free agency is in full swing. As expected, this year’s market is slow, with many marquee free agents, including Trevor Bauer and George Springer, still searching for a home in 2021. With a surplus of salary cap due to the Mookie Betts trade, the Red Sox are equipped to make some major moves this offseason, which they probably won’t end up doing. Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom believes in developing a contender through minor moves and rookie development, which isn’t the worst strategy — take for example the Tampa Bay Rays. Nonetheless, the Red Sox should be dealing this offseason in some capacity, especially with the AL East becoming a juggernaut division.
1. Relief pitching
In 2020, the Red Sox bullpen was atrocious, finishing with a 6.01 combined ERA and 13 blown saves, which was tied for second-worst in MLB. Although Matt Barnes, Phillips Valdez and Darwinzon Hernandez had solid splits, the back half of the bullpen was a wet paper towel. If the Red Sox want to be contenders in the near future, the bullpen needs one or two solid arms that the team can rely on. Although a few prospects such as Durbin Feltman are expected to debut in 2021, the free agency market does offer some alternatives. Trevor Rosenthal and Tyler Clippard seem like solid options and will be relatively cheap in this depressed market. Personally, I would rather see the Red Sox sign Rosenthal since he’s only 30 and has a higher ceiling than Clippard. However, both would be solid additions to a bullpen in desperate need of help.
2. Back-end starting pitcher
The pitching woes continued for the Red Sox as their starting pitching was one of the worst in the league, with a quality start percentage of 15%, which was well below the league average of 29%. Although Chris Sale’s and Eduardo Rodriguez’s ailments contributed to this decline, there aren’t many excuses to be made for that number; the Red Sox need another pitcher. Currently, the Red Sox have Chris Mazza slated at their 5 spot, a below average pitcher at best. The Sox should target a cheap starter with experience in the postseason — enter Jose Quintana. Although he’s on a noticeable decline, Quintana still can put up quality starts, something the Red Sox desperately need. He’d be a solid piece to the rotation and a guy you can rely on week in and week out.
3. Do not sign Jackie Bradley Jr.
This one hurts to write. JBJ is a fan favorite in Boston and will be regarded as one of the best defensive players in Red Sox history. However, he is below average at the plate and continues to decline at an alarming rate. Teams starved for defensive talent will definitely shell out some money for Jackie and will most likely be out of the Red Sox’s price range. As much as I loved him, JBJ just isn’t as valuable as he once was. The Red Sox have plenty of farm system prospects that are well equipped to man center field, and letting JBJ go will wiggle more money for the Red Sox to spend this offseason.
This offseason will be a test for the Red Sox under Chaim Bloom — what is their identity as a franchise moving forward? Will they be spending to speed up their contention process or retain prospects and build from the ground up? As a passionate fanbase, we hope it’s the former.