Get Cheap, Compete: How the Red Sox Can Shed Salary and Win in 2020

Get Cheap, Compete: How the Red Sox Can Shed Salary and Win in 2020

by December 10, 2019 0 comments

The Boston Red Sox are stuck in an unusual predicament: Having the luxury of high payroll, allowing them to sign players and field the best team possible, but having to approach the offseason of 2020 with a Moneyball approach to things.

That being said, even the 2002 Oakland Athletics were able to replace their star contributors with reliable, cheap options to the tune of a 103-win season.

The Red Sox, unlike the A’s of the early-2000s, have the luxury of having a top-two player in the MLB in Mookie Betts and a top-five pitcher (when healthy) in Chris Sale. Neither of the two are players Chaim Bloom and co. should be overly concerned about shopping this offseason.

However, it’s the role players. The Jackie Bradleys, the Nathan Eovaldis, and the David Prices of the world that require a high-salary (relatively speaking) for production that doesn’t quite equate to what they make.

Those three players are the likes that Boston is going to be attempting to trade this winter, and it won’t come easy. Jackie Bradley Jr. is a rental player on the wrong side of 30 and appears to have peaked as an MLB player. Eovaldi is also 30 but has had countless injuries to his pitching arm that his ceiling has been lowered drastically, making him almost immovable at $17 million in average annual value. Then you get to David Price who, while still a very good pitcher, has struggled to be the workhorse that he was expected to be when he signed that massive contract before the 2016 season –– and is set to make $96 million over the next three seasons.

That being said, if Boston can move any of these three players, they’re going to need to replace them. But who’s out there that can give the Red Sox the most bang for their buck?

Jarrod Dyson – OF

Perhaps the easiest guy to replace would be Jackie Bradley Jr. As stated previously, Bradley seems to have peaked as a hitter. While he has put up fantastic numbers in the past, he has come back down to earth with 89, 90, and 90 wRC+ seasons in the past three seasons.

But Red Sox fans marvel at his defense, calling him “the best centerfielder in the MLB.” However, that may not be true. While Bradley has the volume, Jarrod Dyson has 73 defensive runs saved since 2014 to Bradley’s 50.

Dyson is a lesser offensive commodity, but that’s not the reason Bradley holds value to Boston.

Est. Offer: One year, $4.5 million

Tanner Roark – RHP

Roark is by no means a superstar-caliber pitcher. But he shouldn’t be expected to be one either. As the best Nathan Eovaldi replacement remaining on the board, Roark provides a few things.

  1. Availability
  2. Innings
  3. Consistency

In each of his six full seasons in the MLB, the 33-year-old has made at least 30 starts in five of them, with one being a year that saw him mostly used as a reliever. In those seasons, Roark has never seen an ERA exceed 4.67, or a FIP above 4.70.

He’s simply a good pitcher and one that can help take the burden off of the bullpen’s shoulders.

Est. Offer: Two years, $24 million

Alex Wood – LHP

To replace David Price’s role as a steady left-handed starting pitcher, the Red Sox may opt for adding another southpaw. This is where Alex Wood comes to the party.

The 28-year-old is coming off an injury-shortened 2019 season with the Reds but posted an accumulative pitcher slash line of 3.32/3.46/3.55 over 697.1 innings as a starter.

But what makes Alex Wood so lethal is his knuckle-curveball. In 2018, he posted a 1.91 FIP over the 750-pitch sample size. A funky motion and a sharp breaking ball make a recipe for great success in an analytically-inclined front office that Boston has.

Est. Offer: Two years (mutual option for a third year), $26 million

The Red Sox need to get creative, while also shedding salary. But the fact of the matter is no matter who they move this winter, there’s likely a cheaper option out there who can perform comparably to the piece they’re replacing.

While guys like Bradley Jr. and Eovaldi have become fan-favorites, it’s a business. If the team wants to compete in 2020 and beyond, they might have to sign cheaper guys on much more team-friendly salaries.

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