While this season was certainly disappointing on many levels (i.e. the final win total), there were still some excellent developments in terms of individual player performance. I don’t need to run through the specific players I’m talking about, you all know who they are. This has put the team in much better position to add aggressively in free agency this offseason as they have a much better sales pitch to offer.
And add they should. While this roster still needs several additions to even get it to the point where we’re seriously talking about a wild card run, they need to add legitimate contributors from outside at some point to supplement the talent from the farm and now is the perfect time to do that. They’ve now established a young core of strong performers and the free agent clock is actively ticking on each of those core guys. They’re also still running an insanely low payroll and should have plenty of money to spend (as long as ownership is interested in spending it). It’s time to put their foot on the gas and start making a legitimate attempt to win games.
One caveat before I get into the specifics: you won’t see Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon below, but they should absolutely be in on each and every one of the top free agents including those two. They have the money to spend and they need more good players (preferably really good players). I don’t see a single top free agent that they couldn’t fit onto the roster in relatively easy fashion (and yes, that includes Rendon).
With all of that said, let’s get to the wheeling and dealing…
- Alex Colomé, $10.3M – tender
- Yolmer Sánchez, $6.2M – non-tender
- James McCann, $4.9M – tender
- Carlos Rodon, $4.5M – tender
- Leury García, $4M – tender
- Evan Marshall, $1.3M – tender
- Josh Osich, $1M – non-tender
- Ryan Goins, $900K – non-tender
I’d be ok with trading or non-tendering Colome if they think they can get a similar reliever for cheaper (or a better reliever for a similar salary). As it stands, I’ll just tender him as I’d like to have at least one vet reliever with some upside in the pen. Garcia can keep CF warm for Robert for a couple weeks and then shift to a utility role. Rodon and McCann are easy tenders at those figures. I’d consider non-tendering Marshall if they need the cash, but his number is so small, they might as well see if he can soak up some pen innings.
Sanchez is an easy non-tender at that number. They can get a better player for cheaper on the FA market to fill 2B until Madrigal is ready. If they really want Osich and/or Goins back, they can probably get them for a MiLB deal.
- Welington Castillo: $8 million/$500,000 buyout – decline
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Jose Abreu (made $16M in 2019) – retain (see below)
- Iván Nova (made $9,166,167 in 2019) – I’d be ok with bringing him back on a cheap one-year deal (as long as he’s not the best starter they add), but in this scenario I’m letting him walk.
- Jon Jay (made $4M in 2019) – let go
- Hector Santiago (made $2M in 2019 on split contract) – let go
Jose Abreu (two years, $25 million). Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. It certainly sounds like both sides want this to happen, so the only real question is what will the terms be? I’m a little worried these numbers are going to look low once this gets done and that worries me a bit. I’d like to have him back, but I don’t want them overpaying him because of the player he was and how much they like him as a person. Honestly I’d be ok with giving him more than he should really get on the open market if this were another team, but it’s too easy to see ownership letting a contract like the one I could see them giving him get in the way of adding more pieces a year or two down the road. Hopefully the terms end up being reasonable and this is a win for everyone.
Yasmani Grandal (four years, $50 million). Earlier iterations of my plan had McCann keeping the starting catcher role (or at least handling a larger percentage of the PT). But (1) I don’t really trust McCann to be anything more than a good backup and (2) I just can’t pass up a chance to sign a guy like Grandal who has been one of the elites at the position for years. Great framer, patient approach with power, switch hitter. Hopefully interest is limited again as it was last year, allowing the Sox to swoop in and add him.
Zack Wheeler (four years, $64 million). If they can’t add Cole or Strasburg, he’s probably my next choice for the rotation. Great velocity and he’s been one of the few arms who hasn’t been destroyed by the home run ball the last two years. There’s definitely substantial injury risk here, but he’s been relatively healthy the last two years and there’s some potential for surplus value on whatever deal he sign as long as the bidding doesn’t get out of control.
Alex Wood (one year, $7.5 million). He’s been a favorite of mine for a couple of years now with his ability to generate grounders and whiffs. He was terrible this year, but it’s pretty easy to see that being the result of the injuries. He can start in the rotation and move to the pen if they somehow end up with too many starters once the TJ crew comes back.
Jason Kipnis (one year, $4.5 million). As I mentioned above, I think they can do better than Yolmer Sanchez and for cheaper. Kipnis can still hit righties and would be a nice placeholder for Madrigal (and a bit of a hedge in case he doesn’t hit the ground running right away upon being called up). He can also play some outfield which I like as one of my goals during this exercise was to get Eloy off his feet a couple of times a week with some DH at-bats.
Craig Stammen (one year, $3 million). Similar to Wood, he does a pretty good job of generating grounders and whiffs (though the whiffs were down last year). I’m going a little cheap on the pen in order to do a better job of fortifying the rotation and lineup.
Jeremy Jeffress (one year, $1.5 million). Another arm who’s season was derailed by injuries. It got so bad that he was actually released in September. He’s only one year removed from a dynamite season though. He’s another guy who, when he’s at his best, has done a pretty good job of generating grounders and whiffs.
Trade Kelvin Herrera and Alec Hansen to Texas for Shin-Soo Choo and $6 million. The Rangers have too many outfielders and really Willie Calhoun should be a DH anyway. In exchange for the Sox taking on $15 million of Choo’s salary, the Rangers will take Kelvin Herrera’s remaining money. They also get an interesting high-upside lottery ticket in Hansen. Choo (who the Sox would effectively be paying $6.5 million) can spend the last year of his deal giving the Sox a real DH.
Trade Luis Gonzalez and Davis Martin to Oakland for Stephen Piscotty. Piscotty doesn’t really do anything great, but he’s pretty good at everything. He’s something like an average defender and should be a slightly above average bat (assuming health). I could see the A’s looking to move him to open up some payroll, but he’s actually on a pretty reasonable deal (three years, $23.5 million). If he bounces back, the Sox have a cheapish starting outfielder to plug a whole for the next three years. One caveat, and my apologies as I don’t mean to get too morbid here, but Piscotty had requested to be dealt out west a couple years ago because his mom had a terminal illness. His mother has since passed away, but this trade assumes that Oakland would deal him and that he would be amenable to such a deal.
Trade Carson Fulmer to Miami for Tayron Guerrero. As pnoles stated in his pitcher grades, Fulmer may become a decent pitcher at some point, but it’s looking less and less likely that it’s going to be the Sox that get him there. I’m hoping they can flip him for another interesting, but frustrating talent (hopefully one they’ll have better luck with). Guerrero is your typical arm strength guy who has no idea where it’s going. He’s interesting at least and maybe Coop can do his thing where he points to the plate and says “just throw strikes”.
Total payroll comes in at $119 million and change. The roster would be:
Bench: McCann, Mendick, Engel, and some other minimum salary bat like Cordell who would basically just be there to keep the payroll under Jerry’s arbitrary number until Robert is ready.
SP: Giolito, Wheeler, Wood, Lopez, Cease
RP: Colome, Bummer, Stammen, Cordero, Fry, Jeffress, Marshall, Guerrero
Obviously Robert and Madrigal would be plugged in a couple weeks into the season once their current shortcoming are magically fixed. Cordell and Mendick would fall off the roster at that point. The rotation will probably be supplemented by Kopech and maybe Rodon, which could also stand to strengthen the pen as guys like Wood, Lopez and/or Cease (or even Rodon himself) could move to relief once the TJ crew is ready. The pen is also an area I’d look to add at the deadline if they can stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot.
While I’m not complexly thrilled with the resulting roster, I would still count this as a really good offseason for this team (especially considering my low expectations with this ownership group). I do think this roster could contend for a playoff spot with a couple of good breaks (i.e. Piscotty turning things around, Wheeler, Wood and some of the other in-house arms staying healthy, etc.)
And just to quell some fears voiced in some threads last week, they’d only have about $60 million in payroll committed for 2021 before arb decisions are made (which should leave them plenty of room to keep adding).
One thing I did want to reiterate, they should definitely be in on all of the top guys on the market. One specific scenario that I considered was signing Rendon, shifting Moncada back to second and trading Madrigal for a controllable outfielder (i.e. Gallo, Haniger, etc.) I couldn’t quite make the numbers work, but that’s what I mean when I say that they should be in on ALL of the top guys. They have the athletes to make the pieces fit if they can bring in an elite talent that plays the same position as one of the core guys. And obviously they’d have no trouble finding a spot for Cole or Strasburg in the rotation.
Hope everyone enjoys this exercise as much as I do. Looking forward to reading everyone’s plans and discussing!