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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Was This Red Sox Season a Sign of Things to Come, or Just a Surprising One-off?

The question is whether the current standard of play is sustainable. Do the Red Sox feel like a good bet to make the playoffs in a division that the Rays have won two years running, with the Yankees on equal footing and the Blue Jays improving at a frightening rate? Between salary commitments, projected arbitration awards, the dead salary on Price’s deal, and other odds and ends, Boston could end up with a payroll near $190 million without even dipping into free agency; will they keep free-agent-to-be Eduardo Rodriguez? If not, how will they replace him? And where else can they upgrade without running a Dombrowskovian payroll, if that’s still off the table?

Look at this offseason, and look back at the winter of 2018. Do the Red Sox feel more sustainable or competitive now than they did then? Or are they merely 15 percent cheaper and 15 percent worse?

Whether this season brings joy or ambivalence depends entirely on the standards the Red Sox are judged by, and those they impose upon themselves. If Hernández’s home run rampage and the laundry cart are enough, this is a win. And if that’s the case, that’s fine—only one team per year gets to cuddle the big hunk of metal, after all. But given where this team was four years ago, one could be forgiven for expecting more.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 24, 2021 at 07:05 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2021 at 11:34 PM (#6048786)
The question is whether the current standard of play is sustainable. Do the Red Sox feel like a good bet to make the playoffs in a division that the Rays have won two years running, with the Yankees on equal footing and the Blue Jays improving at a frightening rate?

Didn't RTFA of course but these are not the same. The Red Sox might be able to maintain their 2021 level and still get beaten out by 3 better, equal or nearly equal teams.

Anyway, for 2022, my first key question is Sale. It's probably too much to expect him to bounce back to his old self but can he bounce back to 180 IP, 120 ERA+?

On contract decisions, you exercise the options on Schwarber, Vazquez and Perez but probably not Richards (who survived a season! But $10 M is a bit rich.) You've got a bit of a logjam with JDM, Schwarber and Dalbec (and Verdugo, Renfroe) so possibly explore a trade there. Make a serious run at extending Devers.

The Sale question largely answers the ERod question. Sale, Eovaldi, Houck, Perez, Pivetta and a body seems solid enough if Sale is good. It may be ERod vs exercising Richards' option.

There's obviously a lot of risk for 2022 -- Sale's health, Eovaldi turning back into Eovaldi, Pivetta turning back into Pivetta, Arroyo back to Arroyo, which Schwarber do you get, is JDM gonna hit the wall at 34?

My offseason wish list would be a top CF (allows Hernandez back to 2B/super-sub) but they don't really exist so then a top 2B. After that, obviously it would be great to add a top starter or, rarest of beasties, a reliable excellent reliever.

Now, if Sale is gonna be average or can only be relied on for 15 starts, then the need for a top starter goes up quite a bit and this all looks a good bit less sustainable.
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 25, 2021 at 01:09 AM (#6048792)
On contract decisions, you exercise the options on Schwarber . . .
It’s an $11.5M mutual option, so Schwarber is pretty much guaranteed to take the $3M buyout and do much better in free agency.
   3. villageidiom Posted: October 25, 2021 at 08:51 AM (#6048803)
I'm going to assume:

1. Rodriguez will not be back.
2. JDM will not opt out.
3. Schwarber will not be back.
4. Either Devers or Dalbec will be traded. The other will be the 2022 3B.
   4. Darren Posted: October 25, 2021 at 09:32 AM (#6048812)
Between salary commitments, projected arbitration awards, the dead salary on Price’s deal, and other odds and ends, Boston could end up with a payroll near $190 million without even dipping into free agency


Where did they get this number? Sounds way too high.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: October 25, 2021 at 09:57 AM (#6048815)
I'm going to assume:
-
-
4. Either Devers or Dalbec will be traded. The other will be the 2022 3B.
I find this weird as an assumption (rather than a "bold prediction" or something). Anyone in mind for 1B in this scenario?

I'm going to assume that Devers is not traded this offseason.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 25, 2021 at 10:16 AM (#6048820)

Where did they get this number? Sounds way too high.


Cot's projects $151M with all the arb and pre-arb guys FWIW. I think maybe he means $190M if they bring all their FA back, and don't bring anyone new in.
   7. Textbook Editor Posted: October 25, 2021 at 10:39 AM (#6048827)
Anyway, for 2022, my first key question is Sale. It's probably too much to expect him to bounce back to his old self but can he bounce back to 180 IP, 120 ERA+?


Honestly, league average production for 180 IP, while pricey given his contract, is to me what we should hope for. Anything beyond that is gravy. And while such a performance would be pricey, at least it would be 180 IP covered and to me that incredibly valuable. If you look at what we rolled out there this season as a rotation, the fact we won 92 games is all underpinned by--first and foremost--not having 1-2 black holes in the rotation.

I don't get the $190 million figure thrown out either, unless they've extended Devers or signed Schwarber as part of that. Cot's has them projected at $174 and while that's probably a bit low, it seems about right. (Though looking at their spreadsheet, they don't seem to show Xander as having an opt-out after 2022, though I may be mis-reading the sheet.) I will also say they're projecting Devers for 2022 at $10.25 million in arb and that seems like it may well be off by a bunch.

TE's wish list:

1) Pick up Vasquez's option. No sense having to upset the apple cart and get a new catcher in for the staff, especially considering it's a 1/$7 deal.

2) Shop Renfroe. Because he has some control left (2 more arb years), he may have some value.

3) Try to sign Schwarber (this is more about post-2022 than 2022). I wouldn't go crazy with the AAV unless the years were short, but of you offset the signing with a Renfroe trade, the net payout isn't that bad, and it is a hedge against Martinez falling off the cliff/injury.

4) I'd let EdRod walk unless the price is much more reasonable than I'd imagine it to be, but offer him the QO--at worst, him on a 1-year deal for that amount is not awful.

5) Try to extend Devers/Xander. I suspect you might be able to swing the former, but suspect the latter is following a Mookie path and we'll be exploring trade options this winter as a result if there's good offers for him. (Of course, trading Xander opens up all sorts of other problems in the infield, etc.)

I didn't realize how many guys we would still have under control for 2022/2023--we're not in bad shape, but obviously there's work to be done. Pretty much from 2023 forward, though, they have a ton of payroll flexibility, so I'm hoping they realize that signing Devers/Xander to long-term deals would be worth their while.
   8. Textbook Editor Posted: October 25, 2021 at 10:41 AM (#6048829)
FWIW, here's where the Cot's info is:

Cot's Contracts - Red Sox
   9. villageidiom Posted: October 25, 2021 at 10:55 AM (#6048832)
Where did they get this number? Sounds way too high.
If all options are exercised and all opt-outs are not exercised, then they're roughly at $150 million already before we get to arbitration (Devers, Verdugo, Pivetta, others) and minimum salaries for the rest. They're still paying something like $16 million of Price's salary.
   10. Rough Carrigan Posted: October 25, 2021 at 12:06 PM (#6048866)
I thought there was talk that, long term, Whitlock was likely to be a starter not a reliever. No?
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: October 25, 2021 at 12:16 PM (#6048869)
I thought there was talk that, long term, Whitlock was likely to be a starter not a reliever. No?
I hadn't heard either way. But it's a good idea, he was a starter in the minors and is still young.
   12. bunyon Posted: October 25, 2021 at 12:21 PM (#6048871)
If you look at what we rolled out there this season as a rotation, the fact we won 92 games is all underpinned by--first and foremost--not having 1-2 black holes in the rotation.

In all the discussion about how good or bad the Red Sox are, I think something Red Sox fans miss is most teams have 2-3-4 black holes in their rotation. Even the Dodgers ended the season shy of starting pitching. Busting through the salary cap is no longer a guarantee of having depth.
   13. donlock Posted: October 25, 2021 at 02:19 PM (#6048916)
Dalbec has only started 4 games at 3rd. I would leave him at 1b.
   14. Darren Posted: October 25, 2021 at 02:58 PM (#6048923)
If not, how will they replace him? And where else can they upgrade without running a Dombrowskovian payroll, if that’s still off the table?


It's interesting the ways in which sports media carries management's water with the unspoken assumption that staying under $210 mil--which is not even the CBT threshold for 2022--is the standard.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2021 at 03:59 PM (#6048939)
According to Cots, JDM has no more options left.

I didn't realize it was a mutual option for Schwarber, makes sense. I suspect Schwarber would love to be back. I have no idea what he's gonna get.

EDIT: On Devers ... he's obviously getting a big raise but he made just $4.6 M this year so $10 M is already a raise of more than 100% and it's rare a player will do substantially better than that in arb. Baez got $5 M after a 6 WAR season then a raise to $10 M after another 6 WAR season. Corey Seager went from $4 to $7.6; Story from $5 to $9 (after back-to-back 6 WAR seasons); Correa from $5 to $8 but injuries were involved there ... still the same WAR as Devers this year.
   16. Nasty Nate Posted: October 25, 2021 at 04:03 PM (#6048941)
According to Cots, JDM has no more options left.
This has come up in Sox Therapy recently. Apparently everyone else but Cots thinks he has an opt-out. Another recent example is: https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/10/25/red-sox-offseason-questions-martinez-schwarber-rodriguez-barnes-devers-chaim-bloom-mlb/
   17. salvomania Posted: October 25, 2021 at 04:47 PM (#6048959)
Honestly, league average production for 180 IP, while pricey given his contract, is to me what we should hope for

In 2022, Sale will be five years removed from his last season with more than 160 IP.

Last year six pitchers total in the AL reached 180 IP.

I think it's extremely optimistic to set 180 IP---league average production or otherwise---as a hope for Sale in 2022.
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: October 25, 2021 at 05:02 PM (#6048965)
Honestly, league average production for 180 IP, while pricey given his contract, is to me what we should hope for


In 2022, Sale will be five years removed from his last season with more than 160 IP.

Last year six pitchers total in the AL reached 180 IP.

I think it's extremely optimistic to set 180 IP---league average production or otherwise---as a hope for Sale in 2022.
Agreed. I think a more plausible hope is for ~150 excellent innings. A Lance Lynn 2021 type year. To be clear, that's a hope not an expectation or prediction.
   19. villageidiom Posted: October 25, 2021 at 05:03 PM (#6048966)
Dalbec has only started 4 games at 3rd. I would leave him at 1b.
In the minors he started 306 games at 3B, vs. 23 at 1B. They switched him to 1B because they already had Devers at 3B and figured 1B would be Dalbec's fastest path to the majors.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2021 at 05:22 PM (#6048972)
extremely optimistic to hope? Man, rough times in Boston. :-)

It's fair enough that with the way things are trending, even 180 innings is a big ask but the question remains -- is Sale a #1.5 starter (poor #1 to good #2) or is he a #3-4 or is it 15 starts of whatever you get and on the IL the rest of the time? Other than HRs, he looked pretty good in his regular season return.

A quality Sale and a sustaining Eovaldi is a good front of the rotation and the rest looks pretty well sorted. If you decide to pencil in Sale for just 15 starts, then you want to find a solid #2. (Which could be Houck or Whitlock I suppose.)

Whitlock will be an interesting decision. I wouldn't count on him moving back to starting. It's true he was a starter in the minors but he also missed time at the end of 2019 and of course did whatever he did during 2020. They've found a successful role for him, it's quite possible they'll decide to leave him there. Have there been other recent young minors starters who spent an entire successful season in a ML bullpen then into the rotation the next season? It used to happen a lot, I assume it must still happens occasionally but nobody's springing to mind (which doesn't mean much).

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