You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But If You Try Sometimes, You Just Might Find, You Get into the Postseason

PREAMBLE

As repeated disappointment and mind-numbing incompetence is wont to do, I found myself completely unmotivated to do this. Nonetheless, bleak as I fear the future may be, I decided to trudge on to see if any sense could be made of the roster for next year given its already bloated payroll and management’s financial constraints.  It doesn’t help that there isn’t very much surplus value because of arguably premature extensions (Jimenez, Robert, Moncada), and dead weight from the questionable allocation of resources (Garcia, Diekman, Kelly).  Pollock’s option also tightens the salary screws quite a bit.

Since in 2021 this team yet again suffered from far too many sucking voids in the lineup, and the foreseeable aversion to hitting right-handed pitching, my goal was to find competence and better balance.  And since our starting pitching was on the ropes for much of the season, at least until Lynn and Cueto tagged in, I also sought some more reliability for the rotation.  Nothing I did is terribly exciting, and I think next season will ultimately come down to whether the core of the team (Jimenez, Robert, Anderson, Moncada) can stay healthy and play up to their ability, otherwise this is just an exercise in putting different shades of lipstick on a pig before it gets butchered and BBQ’d.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

  • Lucas Giolito: $10.8M (Tender)
  • Dylan Cease: $5.3M (Tender)
  • Reynaldo López; $3.3M (Tender)
  • Adam Engel: $2.3M(Non-Tender)
  • Michael Kopech: $2.2M (Tender)
  • Kyle Crick: $1.5M (Non-Tender)
  • José Ruiz: $1M (Non-Tender)
  • Danny Mendick: $1M (Non-Tender)

CLUB OPTIONS

  • Tim Anderson: $12.5M (Pick Up)
  • Josh Harrison: $5.625M (Buyout)

PLAYER OPTIONS

  • AJ Pollock: $13M ($5 million buyout) — Exercised

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS

  • José Abreu (Made $18M in 2021) (Let Go. Sadly, I just don’t see how Abreu’s salary fits if the team is going to address its needs without substantially increasing the payroll)
  • Johnny Cueto ($4.2M) (Let Go)
  • Vince Velasquez ($3M) (Let Go) (Signing this joker to a major league deal and passing him off as a legit rotation candidate might have been the biggest FU to the fans last off-season)
  • Elvis Andrus ($14.25M) (Let Go)

MANAGER

I really would like to bring someone in from the outside, preferably from another organization that has been successful.  I thought Espada fit that bill really well, so I’m anxious to hear why he was apparently eliminated from contention.  Other teams have passed on him too, however, so maybe there’s something else going on, like he has extremely poor hygiene, or he won’t stop talking about his Crossfit stats.  Quatraro also fit that bill pretty well, but the Royals obviously grabbed him while the Sox dithered. I don’t think this team needs any more drama, so I definitely don’t want Ozzie to become the Sox version of Billy Martin.  I’m intrigued by Ron Washington, however, we just did the geriatric thing and it didn’t work out.  I’m also intrigued by Kevin Long, since he’s gotten his teams to hit wherever he’s gone, but he would definitely be somewhat of an unknown and a risk. So I’m going to go in a different direction, with a name that we haven’t heard about that you will find entirely boring – Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren.  He has managerial experience with the A’s, has been to four World Series as a bench coach (Mets in 2015, Dodgers in 2017, 2018, and 2020), and supposedly is comfortable with analytics.

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: Kolten Wong (3 years, $45M).  The second base FA market is stocked worse than a Soviet supermarket. I’m not sure if 3/45 is rich enough to snag Wong given the limited supply, but he’s left-handed, plays good defense, seems to be consistently competent with the bat, and comes from winning organizations.

No. 2: Chris Bassitt (3 years, $54M). You see, you can go home again! In order to stay within the confines of the payroll, I’m hoping we can structure this contract creatively as $16M in 2023, $19M in 2024, and $19M in 2025.  Bassitt has quietly become one of the most consistent starters over the past four years, and he’s obviously a gamer given how he came back after that terrifying line drive to his face.  I’m hoping he can shore up the rotation and bring some toughness to a club that seemed to need an awful lot of days off last year.

No. 3: Omar Narvaez (2 years, $12M). You see, you can go home again and again! The left-handed batting Narvaez had a down year last year offensively, even against right-handed pitchers.  But over his career, he’s hit right-handed pitching pretty decently, his defense was still solid, so hopefully he can platoon with the rejuvenated Seby to form a competent catching duo.

TRADES

No. 1: Trade Yasmani Grandal and Liam Hendriks to the Mets for Mark Canha and Carlos Carrasco. I will take a victory lap for proposing the Sox trade Grandal last year because I thought he was a bad bet as an old creaky catcher.  I will also hope you ignore the fact I proposed getting Joey Gallo in return, who was equally terrible last year. This time I’m trying to create some salary relief by packaging Grandal with Hendriks to the Mets who need to replace Edwin Diaz and also have a pretty underwhelming pair of backstops in Nido and McCann. To balance some of the money, and also fill our spot in LF and in the rotation, we’ll get back Mark Canha (who actually hits RHP better than LHP) and Carlos Carrasco.  I don’t love losing our closer, especially in a year where we’re ideally trying to make a run, but I’m hoping that we can find a closer out of Graveman, ReyLo, or possibly Crochet, and if that isn’t working, try to pick someone up at the deadline if the team is in contention.  This move would save the Sox roughly $8M.

No.2: Trade Lucas Giolito, Gavin Sheets, Sean Burke, Norge Vera and Yoelqui Cespedes to the Orioles for Cedric Mullins. The Orioles, who finished above .500 and seem to be ready to try and compete, still had the 4th worst number of quality starts in baseball last year and have a rotation with no clear leader.  Mullins is coming off a down year compared to his break-out in 2021, and the O’s offense is not as dependent on him with their rising stars, but his left-handed bat provides a clear upgrade for the Sox.  Sheets comes home to Baltimore where he’s from and his dad played, and gives the Orioles a LH DH option, while Burke and Vera give them some quality arms that are close to major league ready.

SUMMARY

Aside from questions about our core bouncing back, my greatest fear with this roster is probably chemistry.  I worry that by trading away Hendriks and Giolito and letting Abreu go, the team may lack leadership.  That being said, those 3 guys weren’t able to right the ship last year, and for most of the season the team looked like it was going through the motions, so maybe their leadership wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  On paper, at least, I feel like this roster should be able to win the division.

C Narvaez 6M

3B Moncada 17.8M

SS Anderson 12.5M

2B Wong 15M

1B Vaughn 700K

DH Jimenez 10.3M

CF Robert 9.5M

RF Mullins 4.4M

LF Canha 10.5M

Bench Zavala 700K

Bench Garcia 5.5M

Bench R. Gonzalez 700K

Bench Pollock $13M

SP Cease 5.3M

SP Bassitt 16M

SP Lynn 18.5M

SP Kopech 2.2M

SP Carrasco 14M

CL Graveman 8M

RP Lopez 3.3M

RP Kelly 9M

RP Crochet 700K

RP Bummer 3.75M

RP Diekman 3.5M

RP Lambert 700K

RP Davis 700K

 

TOTAL: $192.25M

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andyfaust

thumbs up for the title alone. i like all the left handed bats you added. Got ballsy on the trades. Love the rotation, hate the pen. But I can’t blame you too much for a pen that is guaranteed to include Kelly and Diekman at ridiculous prices. I found the acquisition of Mullins especially interesting.