The Boston Red Sox were just awful this season, nearly impossible to watch. That’s over now, thankfully. With the World Series well on its way to finishing and the last game scheduled for Wednesday night, it’s time to turn the page to the offseason.
Boston has quite a few areas that need to be addressed this offseason if they have any intention to contend this upcoming season. This is my ideal Red Sox offseason.
The offseason timeline is as follows, according to CBS: Five days after the World Series Free Agency starts, then Dec. 6 to 10 is going to be the Winter Meetings and then clubs start spring training on Feb. 27, 2021.
The manager: Not Alex Cora
I have no interest in talking about sign stealing ever again, so bringing Alex Cora back to Boston would be incredibly maddening. The whole baseball community probably generated enough internal heat fuming over what the Houston Astros, Red Sox and likely 60% of baseball did to collectively heat up a fresh batch of garlic bread from the grocery store. Let’s just not do that again, okay?
It does unfortunately look like Cora will be back, though, after Jon Heyman tweeted he had the support of “owners, players and fans” and is viewed as the favorite for the job.
Even if he doesn’t land in Boston, I find it hard to believe he won’t be managing somewhere in the majors next season. There’s no escaping sign stealing.
Options: Don Kelly, Luis Urueta, Will Venable, James Rowson, George Lombard or Mike Bell
The rotation: Anyone with a pulse not named Mike Kickham
What an absolute dumpster fire of a season this was in the rotation. They had 16 different pitchers start a game this season, which would be extraordinary in a normal 162 game season. However this was a 60-game season, meaning they used a new starter every 3.75 games. That’s not even a full rotation turn. Even if you adjust that to account for the original five-man rotation,that’s still a new starter every five games after the first run through the rotation.
They had one starter under a four ERA with Nathan Eovaldi’s 3.72 in nine starts. They started Zack Godley in seven games this season – he had an 8.16 ERA.
Chief Baseball Officer has a few options: he can go for broke and give likely NL Cy Young Trevor Bauer a high-dollar, low-year offer, bring in some buy-low and hope to develop options like Taijaun Walker and Robbie Ray or stand put and hope Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale come back strong.
My ideal out of those options would be to bring in Taijuan Walker, decline Martin Perez’ option but bring him back on a two-year deal for about $7.5 million per year and let Tanner Houck do his thing.
Walker is reaching free agency at 28 years old, but he’s only pitched a combined 67.1 innings over the last three seasons. In eight big league seasons, he has pitched just 581.2 innings. That raises two important points. He has seen his fair share of injuries, which is concerning, but that means there has been limited mileage on his arm.
He was fantastic for the Toronto Blue Jays after they acquired him from the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline. In six starts he had a 1.37 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 26.1 innings. His walks are a bit concerning giving 3.8 free passes per nine innings last season, but anything is better than Mike Kickham.
Other options: Brett Anderson, Athony DeSclafani or Felix Hernandez
The bullpen: Look for potential to develop, don’t spend too much
As we have seen in spades this postseason, the Tampa Bay Rays have an incredibly deep bullpen. It was largely built on pieces they acquired from other organizations or signed as minor league free agents. That is exactly what Chaim Bloom needs to do here. Whenever relievers have come with a high-price tag in the past decade, it has rarely panned out.
The only one I can think of is when the New York Yankees signed noted domestic abuser Aroldis Chapman to a huge contract, after he had already played with the organization the season before.
Go cheap and don’t hold onto a reliever when they’re bad.
Second base: Cesar Hernandez
The right side of the Red Sox infield has been drastically unstable in comparison to the left side, which is essentially written in stone. Dustin Pedroia is probably not going to come back, but we’ll get to that later.
Hernandez is not a sexy pick, but he’s a switch hitter and a consistent hitter. He can swipe some bags, he’ll hit a solid amount of doubles – which he led the American League in this past season with 20 – and he can provide near Gold Glove caliber defense.
He’ll be 31 years old next season, so giving him a two or three year deal at around $8 million a year would do quite nicely.
Other options: Jose Iglesias, Tommy La Stella or Asdrubal Cabrera
Outfield: Michael Brantley or Marcell Ozuna
If they are going to spend money this offseason, here is where I’d like it to be. Here are two just professional hitters who can provide consistent offense to a team that needs it with their current pitching situation. Both can be had in the $15 to $20 million per year range at three to four years.
Other options: Shin-Soo Choo or Nick Markakis
Let Dustin Pedroia follow his heart
There have been few players who have dedicated as much time and effort into a franchise as Dustin Pedroia. Admittedly, I’m slightly biased because he was my favorite player growing up. I want him to get the send off he wants and deserves. Therefore, they should by no means cut him or force him to retire if he’s not ready.
He has one more year at $12.125 million this season; let him do what he feels he needs to. He’s earned it and the extra 40-man roster spot isn’t going to be worth souring one of the more important relationships the team has to maintain. Pedroia is Boston. Forcing him out will not be forgotten by fans, nor the Laser Show himself.
The 40-man roster is facing a crunch, with many of the recently acquired players needing to be added in order to protect them in the Rule 5 Draft, but getting rid of Pedroia is not the right answer to that question.