MLB Offseason Preview: Boston Red Sox

MLB Offseason Preview: Boston Red Sox

by October 29, 2020 6 comments

2020 was a gut-wrenching season for the Boston Red Sox. With a newly-constructed front office in place, Mookie Betts and David Price were traded away. Alex Cora also departed the team amidst his one-year suspension for his involvement in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

Then, of course, COVID-19 hit and pushed back the season. Boston’s baseball team was surely delighted to learn that the postseason bracket was expanding. However, it didn’t matter. The Red Sox severely underachieved, finishing 24-36 and putting them dead last in the AL East. (Yes, below the Baltimore Orioles.) To make matters worse, Boston saw three of its division-mates sneak into the playoffs, with the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays all extending their season.

Boston’s pitching struggled, and their offense was rather quiet. They traded Brandon Workman at the deadline while also parting with names like Kevin Pillar and Mitch Moreland. With that in mind, Boston is now equipped with valuable prospects Bloom believes can be developed into future Major League players. Bloom came in and did what was expected of him in Year 1.

With his first regular season behind him, what will Bloom do in his first full offseason with the Red Sox?

Offseason Strategy

The Red Sox are now a low-budget baseball team. Red Sox ownership will look to Bloom to essentially replicate what the Rays accomplished this season, minus the World Series loss.

Build the back-end of the starting rotation

The Red Sox are losing a few key players, including Jackie Bradley Jr., Collin McHugh, and José Peraza. They also have a key option decision coming up on Martín Pérez, who would figure to be their No. 4 starter. Boston will likely pick up his $6.25 million option, but it’s not a guarantee. If they do decline it, they could opt to sign a few lower-level starting pitchers and allow them to round out the back-end of the rotation behind Sale, Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Nick Pivetta. Further, Tanner Houck showed incredible potential in September and is in a good position to claim a job in the rotation out of spring training. Chris Mazza and Bryan Mata will also audition for starting jobs.

Add clarity at second base and left field

Boston also has gaping holes at second base and fourth outfielder. Christian Arroyo is a decent second baseman, but Boston would be wise to solidify the position and allow Arroyo to come off the bench and fill in across the infield, rather than limiting him to just one spot. Meanwhile, Michael Chavis is projected to play left field, which is not a viable solution. They’ll likely add a left fielder and then allow Chavis, J.D. Martinez, Yairo Muñoz, and Marcus Wilson to provide depth.

Find a long-term manager

Ron Roenicke is out of town while Alex Cora’s suspension has expired. The World Series-winning skipper is currently the top candidate for Boston’s managerial role, though the Red Sox have also interviewed several external candidates. They’ll be looking for a leader who can control a clubhouse and inspire a team no matter the situation. As of now, Cora seems like the guy for this job.

Free Agent Targets

Kevin Pillar, 31, Outfielder

Pillar had a very good 2020 season, posting a .288 batting average while splitting time between Boston and Colorado. Signing him makes too much sense considering he spent time in Boston last year, is a very defensively-skilled outfielder who could help to replace Bradley, and is coming off an impressive offensive season. Pillar will likely be looking for a three-year deal worth roughly $5 million per season. Boston would be wise to give him that type of contract, perhaps opting for a two-year deal with a club option for a third year instead of a straight three-year pact. All in all, this is a perfect fit.

Kolten Wong, 30, Second Baseman

The St. Louis Cardinals declined Wong’s $12.5 million option for 2020, allowing him to hit free agency after 10 years in St. Louis. With a gaping hole at second base, the former first-round pick could be a fairly low-budget pick-up for Boston. Wong slashed .260/.350/.326 last season with 16 RBI, 20 walks, and 30 strikeouts. He finished the year with 1.2 fWAR. Wong is likely looking for a one- or two-year deal paying him $10 million per season. Don’t be surprised if the Red Sox kick the tires on this glove-first infielder to fill a crucial void.

Kendall Graveman, 29, Starting Pitcher

Graveman might be this offseason’s Blake Treinen or Taijuan Walker. The right-hander hits free agency with a career 24-32 record and 4.44 but pitched worse than those marks in the shortened 2020 season. Bloom likes his right-handed reclamation projects, and with Graveman looking for an opportunity to bounce back, Boston might be his best bet. He would surely compete for the fourth or fifth starting role and provide the Red Sox with an experienced hurler they can trust in the back-end of their rotation.

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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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