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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Let’s Get On With It

In 147 days the 2020 Boston Red Sox will open their spring slate against long time rivals Northeastern University.  By the time that happens it is likely that much will be changed from the 2019 Red Sox.  I don’t think I am being an unreasonable homer when I say I feel optimistic about the team.  Yes some things are in flux but there is a remarkable amount of talent on hand and I expect the Sox to be around the midpoint of last year’s 108 wins and this years 83/84/85 (depending on today and tomorrow).

Of course the massive elephant in the room is the status of Markus Lynn Betts and if John Henry lets him get away I will let the angry mob take over.

With that out of the way here are some thoughts heading into the off-season;

Things I Expect To Happen;

Brock Holt is Gone - This is really sad but honestly it is the right move.  As good and useful as the lovable Holt is he is going to be 32 and has played over 100 games once in four years.  Some of that is due to his role as a utility player but some is due to an unpleasant injury history.  I expect some team will be positioned to give Holt some good money and frankly I’ll be thrilled for Brock whose walk off hit in the continued game against Kansas City on “Jimmy Fund Day” in August is one of if not THE highlight of this season.

A Trade Be A-Comin’ - I think the Sox are going to make a trade involving a player of some financial heft.  I think there is a high likelihood that Jackie Bradley Jr. finds himself somewhere else and I kind of feel bad for the guy.  As a Red Sox player we fans know his foibles and inconsistencies and kind of roll with it.  I think other teams will find him very very frustrating and really let him have it.  He is a bit like the position player equivalent of a knuckleballer, you just have to absorb those stretches where it doesn’t work because there are stretches where it all works really well.  I think the Sox will either move him for a prospect/prospects or immediate MLB relief help.

Bullpen Help Will Be Obtained - I can’t envision a scenario where any new GM comes in and doesn’t say to JWH “hey, I need to acquire a reliever, did you listen to sports radio last year?  We need to send a message.”  And frankly, the team needs someone dependable out there.  Candidly I feel better about next year’s bullpen than I did about this year’s even if the Sox do nothing.  Barnes will be better, I’m bullish on Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor and Marcus Walden feel like solid pieces.  I love Brandon Workman but I’m also skeptical that he can repeat this year.

Things I Think Might Happen

Mookie Betts Will Sign a Long Term Extension - I think this is possible but I wouldn’t call it likely.  What I do think is true however is that this is much more likely than Mookie being dealt.  I think the order of likeliest outcomes for this winter is;

1. Nothing of note
2. Long term extension announced just after the season starts (see: Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Sale)
3. Long term extension announced in spring training
4. Trade

J.D. Martinez will NOT Opt Out - I think it was Alex Speier who noted this first a few weeks ago.  JDM’s deal pays him 23.5/19.5/19.5 the next three years with an opt out after next year too.  So if you are JDM do you opt out now needing to land a 3/62.5 just to break even as a 32 year old DH or do you wait a year to a time when you would only need 2/39 or better.  Nelson Cruz landed a 4/57 deal prior to his age 34 season.

If JDM Opts Out He’s Gone - I think secretly the Sox would be delighted to see JDM opt out.  If he does I think they let him walk, get very serious about re-signing Mookie and go from there.  That’s not a knock on JD just a recognition that the Sox are working within a budget and moving on from him allows other things to happen.

The New GM Will Be Someone Currently Working for the Cubs (but not Him) - The names that are most likely are former Sox employees Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.  Yes yes, they have current contracts but the Sox could offer promotion (at least in terms of title) that might appeal. 

Things I Think Are Unlikely

Three Possible Surprise Trade Candidates;

-Andrew Benintendi - If the Sox want to replenish the system a bit or fill holes a bit cheaper Benny is a guy that could move.  He would bring a pretty solid return (if the Sox want an established closer this is the bait) and while Benny is good I think the Nick Markakis impression we have seen is an accurate reflection of what he will be.  I do not think he is a future star, just a solid, productive player.

-Nathan Eovaldi - This would be the “OK, we gotta free up some money” deal.  I think Eovaldi is likely to generate virtually no return and may require including a prospect of some sort (Jarren Duran?).  I remain bullish on Nasty Nate (not that one) who is a good though oft-injured hurler.  His deal has a bit of a Josh Beckett circa 2006 feel to it and that worked out in 2007.  I don’t expect Eovaldi to be a 20 game winning Cy Young candidate 12 months from now but I won’t be surprised if he is very good.

-Christian Vazquez - I firmly believe that one of the key jobs for any GM around the game is to find guys who benefitted/suffered from the 2019 super ball that replaced baseballs.  I think a Christian Vazquez who is a 10 homer guy is a good and useful player but I also think it is worth recognizing that the Sox’ backstop just had the best year of his career.  The problem here is the Sox don’t have a replacement available.  Maybe they could bring back Blak….ok ok, I’ll stop.

The Red Sox Will Hire the First Female GM in MLB - The latest reports say the Sox are actively looking for a big name outside the organization and I think that is the likeliest result.  However, if they can’t get their desired candidate they could get creative with highly regarded Raquel Ferreira.  Of course this is roughly the sequence that lead to Theo Epstein coming in and that was OK.

I don’t know what is coming but I suspect this will be an interesting off-season to say the least.

Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 28, 2019 at 10:13 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Darren Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:40 PM (#5884473)
If that's the last we see of Mookie on the Red Sox, what an ending!
   2. Darren Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5884478)
I expect JDM to opt out. It's not a slam dunk, but I can see him deciding that his 2 years cemented that 2016 was legit. He's only getting older and he risks having a down year. Guess I wouldn't be shocked either way, though.

Mookie, I think they make him their best offer, whatever that may be, and then trade him if he doesn't take it. I have no idea if he'll accept.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: September 29, 2019 at 10:41 PM (#5884500)
If JDM Opts Out He’s Gone - I think secretly the Sox would be delighted to see JDM opt out. If he does I think they let him walk, get very serious about re-signing Mookie and go from there. That’s not a knock on JD just a recognition that the Sox are working within a budget and moving on from him allows other things to happen.
If they don't want him at that salary and he doesn't opt out, they would be able to salary dump a very high percentage of his contract.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: September 29, 2019 at 10:44 PM (#5884501)
Mookie, I think they make him their best offer, whatever that may be, and then trade him if he doesn't take it.
That's plausible. But I think it's more likely that they'd try to win one more time with him. The roster is far from talent-empty.
   5. Darren Posted: October 05, 2019 at 06:21 PM (#5886912)
This will be an exciting offseason, even if it's for reasons that aren't so great. Some thoughts:

--I've come to the conclusion that they should not offer JBJ arbitration. He's a fine player but the market is just not paying $10 Mil/year for 30-year-old glovemen.

--Knowing that extensions can be structured so that they start the following year and don't count against the current year, could the Red Sox sign Betts for something like 10/$350MM (pick your number), and then pay it out as $20MM for his last year of arb, and 9/$330MM for the extension? Could they do it as $10MM/$340MM? Or how about a 1 year, $10MM deal with an 9/$340MM player option, plus a $25MM buyout.

--Could the Red Sox buy themselves some payroll space by extending certain players? What if you added a 1 year, $10MM to Price's deal. Now he's 4/$106--$27MM per year instead of $31MM. Rework JDM's deal to 5/$90MM. Now he's $18MM instead of $22MM. Dustin Pedroia, if he concludes he's not going to play again, may be open to a 4/$28MM deal to replace his 2/$26MM deal.

--I suspect some of the above 'schemes' would run afoul of the 'you can't do stuff to get around the cap' part of the CBA. Maybe worth a try though?

--Trade Mookie? If you can't sign him this offseason, I think you have to strongly consider it. Getting back some value for him (and other teams may value him more for next year, especially given the free agent compensation situation) and then trying to resign him in 2021 makes a ton of sense.

--Jabari Blash

--Some trade ideas for Mookie, if it comes to that: Thor+ or Rizzo+. Both of these guys are under control for 2 years. They have similar costs over that two years, but their 2020 tax hit would be way lower.
   6. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: October 05, 2019 at 09:04 PM (#5886974)
What about Jabari Blash?

I think trading Mookie is monumentally stupid but if we are going to I like your ideas. Getting Rizzo back would be fun.

I won’t be surprised at all if JBJ gets non-tendered for just the reason you say. Additionally they have a couple of intriguing prospects in the minors. Neither is ready but Jarren Duran could be a second half option. Gilberto Jimenez was only in Lowell but is outrageously fast.
   7. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 06, 2019 at 02:55 PM (#5887070)

--Trade Mookie? If you can't sign him this offseason, I think you have to strongly consider it. Getting back some value for him (and other teams may value him more for next year, especially given the free agent compensation situation) and then trying to resign him in 2021 makes a ton of sense.


I would rather see Betts leave in FA than be traded. Trading gives off a vibe of giving up. Would much rather see the Sox try to do everything they can to sign him and if it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. None of the Jon Lester too cute for their own #### bullshit.
   8. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 06, 2019 at 11:57 PM (#5887250)
I would rather see Betts leave in FA than be traded.


I sort of get what you are saying but Mookie has tremendous value. You wouldn't just give away something without getting something in return. If next year is not going well, and you don't think you can sign him, might as well get a boatload of prospects for him. The Cards gave up a bit to get Goldy, so maybe you get something at the deadline.

Personally I'd rather they just say, here's 10/365, take it or leave it. That's a fair offer.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 09:52 AM (#5887288)

Personally I'd rather they just say, here's 10/365, take it or leave it. That's a fair offer.


Why can't they just offer him something market value and see where it goes from there? Mookie has expressed the desire to go to arbitration to see how the process works, he's said similar things about FA. How about don't be a dick to him, make him a fair offer, let him look around if he needs to, and negotiate with him so they can come to an agreement. If that takes the Sox to the last minute and Betts ultimately decides to leave the org for more money somewhere else, fine. The Sox have already gotten so much more out of him than they could have ever expected, there's no need to ALWAYS MAXIMIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY. Show the player they respect him, want him back, and go from there.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: October 07, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5887290)
I would rather see Betts leave in FA than be traded.
I sort of get what you are saying but Mookie has tremendous value. You wouldn't just give away something without getting something in return. If next year is not going well, and you don't think you can sign him, might as well get a boatload of prospects for him. The Cards gave up a bit to get Goldy, so maybe you get something at the deadline.
I think jacksone was talking about the offseason, not a potential scenario in which the Sox stink at the deadline.
   11. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 11:15 AM (#5887308)
I think jacksone was talking about the offseason, not a potential scenario in which the Sox stink at the deadline.


Let's say the Sox basically repeat their year next season. Would you trade Betts during the season? To me that's such a cold, give-up on the team move, I would really be incredibly turned off the Sox if they did that.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: October 07, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5887314)
I wouldn't (but it's close). But if they repeat, say 2014, I would trade him during the season.
   13. Darren Posted: October 11, 2019 at 01:10 PM (#5889356)
I like Jabari Blash. I would like to see what he could do if given a shot to play 1B. I also like the Jose Martinez who is playing in the KBO.
   14. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: October 13, 2019 at 08:29 PM (#5890158)
Not really related to anything but a note in Rob Bradford’s Sunday notes column (all of which is really good) about Beckett at the end of the 2011 that I had never read before;

And in 2011 Josh Beckett found himself in a similar situation as Hudson. The pitcher was slated to serve as the Red Sox starter if his team had to play a play-in game against Tampa Bay with the Sox having few options in what would be Game 163. But Beckett made it clear to all involved the team shouldn't count on him for such an outing with his wife slated to give birth to the couple's first child the day after the regular season.

This is what he told WEEI.com the following spring training regarding the decision:

"I got torn apart," Beckett said. "Everybody just destroyed me because I cared more about what was going on with my wife than I did that game. I almost think people want me to think the other way around, and I think that's absolutely absurd. To ask a man to care more about a major league baseball game -- and I know it's a major league baseball game -- than he does about what's going on with his wife, who's due any minute. And I never want her to be an excuse. Yeah, I was distracted, but that's not her problem. That's on me. I would never trade that."

He added, "If somebody reads this or somebody thinks I'm wrong, they can go [expletive> themselves. That's the truth. That's what's important to me. I'm not saying baseball is not important. I could differentiate on the day I was pitching. I went out there and I was still as competitive. I'm not saying my mind was only focused on just this pitch because I did have other things on my mind. Whether you want to understand that or not, I don't care because I know who I am and what I'm trying to do."

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