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Nothing is guaranteed for the Sox in 2022. The division will be better, and the ultimate goal should be to play deep in October. The Sox have advanced in the playoffs once since 1917. Once! I don’t think people realize the Sox postseason failures are historically poor. The current roster dollar allotment isn’t great. With $170 million budget, 22% of the payroll is tied up in Keuchel & Abreu. This plan puts together some tough trades that create some roster/payroll flexibility, and also looks toward the future. Any 2022 plan has to account for future year plans as well (sorry Marcus Semien fans).
- Lucas Giolito: $7.9M Tender….we’ll get back to Lucas in a bit
- Reynaldo López; $2.8M Tender
- Evan Marshall: $2.3M Non-Tender
- Adam Engel: $2.2M Tender
- Brian Goodwin: $1.7M Non-Tender
- Jimmy Cordero: $1.2M Non-Tender (open to a spring training invite if he doesn’t sign elsewhere)
- Jace Fry: $1M Non-Tender
- Craig Kimbrel: $16M ($1M buyout) Decline – The trade is a sunk cost at this point, don’t throw bad money at bad money. Besides, picking up his option means you need to move him immediately (like right now) in order to do anything else.
- César Hernández: $6M Decline – Meh, whatever.
OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
- Carlos Rodón ($3M) Let Go. Same with Kimbrel, can’t have $18M tied up in someone who you can’t 100% count on going into the year. Love Carlos, but he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2022.
- Billy Hamilton ($1M) Let Go
- Ryan Tepera ($950K) Bring back on 3 yrs, $12M deal. With this plan forthcoming, it’s imperative to make the pen stronger than it was in 2022, Tepera should come back.
- Leury Garcia ($3.5M) Let him walk, it’s just time, and the Sox can find less expensive multi-position utility guys.
No. 1: Manny Pina (2/$4.5M) I wanted to make a case for Carlos Perez getting called up, but it might be a year too soon (though the Sox should do need to add him to the 40 man). Pina should help solve the back up catcher issue, and someone who would be a good fit on this Sox team.
No. 2: Kendall Graveman (3/17M) This would be my first free agency target out of the gate. Re-signing Tepera, signing Graveman, keeping Kopech in the pen would give the Sox high leverage guys from the right side. He’s closed games (if Hendriks got hurt or needed a day off), he’s had success in the postseason.
No. 3 Starling Marte (3/48M) Signing Marte will end up being less expensive than Castellanos, and finally cures the Sox right field problems. It’s important for the Sox to plug right field now, and not go with another year to year fix. Once Abreu leaves after the 2022 season, it’s easier to not have to fix RF again (when you can plug in Vaughn at 1B, Cespedes in LF in 2023).
No. 1: Trade Lucas Giolito, Lenyn Sosa, Hunter Schryver to San Diego for MacKenzie Gore and Adam Frazier. The time to figure out what to do with Giolito is now, while he’s still two seasons out from FA, and the Sox have leverage. I’m not comfortable giving Lucas a long term, $20+ million annual contract. The Sox will find a willing trade partner in San Diego, a team that seemingly keeps acquiring starting pitching, but still desperately needs it. Risk is if Gore still has “it”, and his value is right now as low as it’s ever been. The Sox also find their starting 2B in this trade in Frazier, who is in the final year of his deal.
No. 2 Trade Eloy Jimenez, Jake Burger, Matthew Thompson to Milwaukee for Brandon Woodruff and Alec Bettinger. Peralta would be the preferred choice based on his age and contract, but both teams will do well here. It stinks to see Eloy go, but for his 40 HR potential, there’s still a lot of concerns with him. It’s better to trade him a year early than a year late. Woodruff should fit in quite well with the Sox, and Bettinger will go to the minors.
No. 3 Trade Blake Rutherford and player to be named later to Oakland for Tony Kemp This is just taking advantage of the forthcoming Oakland firesale. Kemp’s versatility and inexpensive contract has value to the Sox.
Keuchel/Kopech Trading Keuchel is going to be very difficult. My plan is any Keuchel start is Kopech day, and Keuchel is essentially an opener. This also is a plan to stretch out Kopech’s innings count in 2022, when he starts full time in 2023.
Total Payroll: $170,050,000
This roster comes in at payroll, sees improvement at RF/2B, and changes up the rotation. Ideally, I’d love to have dumped Keuchel and Abreu’s contracts, but Keuchel’s money is too much, and let’s face it, the Sox just aren’t trading Jose. For me, fortifying the pen, fixing 2B and RF are my main objectives. I’ll take a chance on Gore when his value is low (for him at least), and see if Katz can turn him into an ace. If there’s a need for a starter come July, there’s going to be a lot of guys out there available (Nola, Bassitt, Manea, Montas, to name a few), in what should be a buyer’s market for starting pitching at next year’s trade deadline.
Also, bring back Ribbie and Roobarb.