The Sox showed they are ready to make deep runs in the playoffs for the foreseeable future but they need just a few more pieces to get there. This includes a Right Fielder, a Designated Hitter, 2 solid Starting Pitchers, and most importantly…a manager. Here’s how I would like to see the Sox attack this off-season, enjoy.
Nomar Mazara: $5.6M | $5.9M | $5.7M : Non-Tender, was a massive disappointment through 55 games, was finally starting to ramp it up into the playoffs but too little, too late to warrant keeping around.
Carlos Rodón: $4.5M | $4.5M | $4.5M : Non-Tender, Showed promise in his early years especially with that slider, but injury concerns and lack of control makes this an easy move.
Lucas Giolito: $2.5M | $5.3M | $2.5M : Tender, don’t think an explanation is needed.
Reynaldo López: $1.7M | $2.2M | $1.7M : Non-Tender, probably the most frustrating pitcher to watch the past 2 years. 2018 was fun but he has regressed substantially the last 2 seasons.
Evan Marshall: $1.3M | $1.9M | $1.4M : Tender, The Sox seem to be the relief pitching whisperers when it comes to reclamation projects (see Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, etc.), whether that was a product of Cooper or Hahn’s luck of signing low-risk/high-reward relievers, Marshall has turned in 2 solid years with the Sox and improved his control from last season.
Adam Engel: $1M | $1.4M | $1M : Tender, probably the most valuable bench player outside of James McCann (if you can even consider him that). A defensive wizard who can rob a homerun or steal a base in a pinch, he also improved his plate appearances by jumping his OPS over 120 points (.687 to .811).
Jace Fry: $800K | $1M | $800K : Tender, was on the fence about Fry, his control hasn’t been what it was in 2018 but he has the stuff to slide into Bummer’s spot as a high-leverage set-up man.
Yolmer Sánchez: Uncertain : I’m gonna leave this blank, Yolmer is the perfect locker room presence and looked exceptional in his sample size plate appearances. If the Sox decide to bring him back on a minor-league deal, great…if not, it won’t break my heart. Mendick looks like the new super-utility infielder of the future and I’m totally okay with that.
Edwin Encarnación: $12M : Decline, easy decision
Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) : Decline, great long-relief/spot-start option, but not at that price.
Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout) : Decline, big Leury fan but it’s time to go a different route in the utility department.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) : Walk, Cardiac Colome sure heightened our blood-pressure the past few years but you can’t argue the man wasn’t solid, albeit non-swing and miss stuff.
James McCann (Made $5.4M in 2020) : Re-sign (2 years, $20mil), un-popular opinion but this dude is our most valuable player, not by stat measurements but the sheer fact the way this man handles our starting staff and his solid bat. With Grandal in his 30’s, McCann would see much more playing time in a reserve role with us and I think he’d be okay with that as opposed to jumping ship to a different ball-club. Plus, I don’t trust Collins or Mercedes yet as the #2.
Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020) : Walk, no ill-will towards Dyson but he just didn’t do anything to warrant a new contract.
Manager: It’s gotta be Bruce Bochy. A player’s coach with a winning bloodline and no baggage. It makes too much sense. However, I would not mind seeing Sandy Alomar Jr. as an option before Hinch, Cora, or (gag) Tony LaRussa.
Pitching coach: Ruben Niebla…..who? He’s currently the Assistant Pitching Coach with the Cleveland Indians, the gold mine for pitchers. Niebla, who was mentioned by Eno Sarris of The Athletic in an article highlighting talented young pitching coaches on the rise, the Sox have gotten a close look at the fruits of his labors. The track record speaks for itself and so if the Sox are interested in taking a page out of the playbook from a team who led the league in a few pitching stat categories; the highly-respected Niebla might be the play.
1. Trevor Bauer (2 years, $50mil…w/player option for 2023) : For me, he has to be #1 priority for Hahn and would be worth every penny….the man takes so much time into his craft, it’s as if his life depends on it. Yes, the guy isn’t the most professional and has a immature attitude but he’s competitive and a good locker room presence. Slotting him as either the #2 or #3 before or after Keuchel could give the Sox one of the best 1-2-3’s in all of baseball. The best thing is that he’s stated he doesn’t want to sign long-term deals and we wouldn’t be on the hook if he were to regress after his 2nd year with us.
2. Jose Quintana (1-year $4.5mil) : Obviously not the same Jose Quintana we saw from 2012-2017, he would provide a end-of-rotation arm who would balance out the righty/lefty options in our rotation.
3. Liam Hendriks (2-years $25mil) : A solid end of the bullpen option who could take over for Colome or could split duties with Bummer. He will probably be too expensive for the frugile A’s but his lights-out stuff and superb control is what this bullpen needs to put them over the top.
4. Kike Hernandez (2-years, $13mil) : Our new Leury Garcia with better discipline and a better glove.
No. 1: Michael Kopech and Gavin Sheets to Colorado for Charlie Blackmon. I fully believe a Rockies rebuild is happening, and it’s going to happen this off-season. I expect Arenado to be traded (St. Louis is my prediction) and also Charlie Blackmon. I understand the Blackmon is 34 and doesn’t have many years left at his high-level, but this dude is a solid and consistent presence in RF and is a great table setter atop the lineup. The fact he’s signed through 2022 puts him alongside the Bauer and Hendriks signing’s in terms of his contract expiration and our best window of opportunity at a initial championship with this core. Kopech scares me, whether its the Tommy John surgery, his personal life, I don’t want any of it. Kopech would get tons of innings on a rebuilding Rockies team and could become the face of their rotation if everything pans out. Gavin Sheets seems like a lost cause, especially with Vaughn in the fold.
Below will be my predicted lineup and rotation/bullpen.
1. Tim Anderson – SS
2. Charlie Blackmon/Luis Robert – RF/CF (Depends on LH/RH Starter that day)
3. Jose Abreu – 1B
4. Yasmani Grandal – C
5. Eloy Jimenez – LF
6. Luis Robert/Charlie Blackmon – RF/CF
7. Yoan Moncada – 3B
8. Andrew Vaughn – DH (I fully expect him to get the Robert/Madrigal treatment and get called up very early in 2021)
9. Nick Madrigal – 2B
C – James McCann
IF – Danny Mendick
OF – Adam Engel
UTIL – Kike Hernandez
Now one may argue Moncada’s spot in the order, but with his regression at the end of this year, due to covid and his leg issues, he should start the year lower in the order and work his way back up.
1. Lucas Giolito
2. Trevor Bauer
3. Dallas Keuchel
4. Dane Dunning
5. Jose Quintana
Long – Dylan Cease
Mid – Evan Marshall
Mid – Garrett Crochet (Chris Sale treatment)
Mid – Codi Heuer
Setup – Jace Fry
Setup – Matt Foster
Closer – Aaron Bummer/Liam Hendriks (Matchup based, either or will be the setup to one another)
I think Kopech is more valuable than Blackmon, by far. A cost controlled number 1 or number 2 starter with 5 years of control versus a 34 year old outfielder that is paid market value. I don’t think you’d have to give up much to get Blackmon, especially since his contract has player options for 2022 and 2023.
You may want to look at how Blackmon ended the year, he may have been hitting .400 through the first 20 games but he ended the year poorly. Also his defense is garbage. He is not worth Kopech imo. Also Enrique Hernandez had a really poor year last year. He’s not getting multiple years from anyone. Would love to see Liam Hendricks with the Sox tho
For the price you pay for Hendriks, why not just bring back Colome? I think the main reason to letting him walk is to re-allocate that 9-12M somewhere other than back-of-the-bullpen outs. You can argue that Hendriks is objectively a better option than Colome but he’s a known entity and valuable to the Sox especially.
Re: Blackmon, I like the thinking outside the box there and trying to take advantage of a Rockie rebuild. I wonder what other prospects, in addition to Kopech, could net use from COL.
I really like the Kike Hernandez idea! Also great call for Ruben Niebla for pitching coach.