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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Locked Out and Semi-Loaded

Chaim Bloom finished the pre-lockout period with something of a bang acquiring left-handed starter Rich Hill then in something of a shocker trading outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for outfielder and 2018 ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr and minor leaguers David Hamilton and Alex Binelas.  Bradley will get the attention here but Binelas is likely to focal point of the trade from the Sox’ perspective.  Binelas is a bit of a Bradley-like figure in that he entered his final college season as a highly regarded prospect but some struggles pushed him down (he was a third round pick by the Brewers in 2021).  Binelas is an all offense slugger so the comps end there and the question is whether he will be able to play left field as his performance at third base is reportedly (from Baseball America) fairly uninspired and the Sox are hopefully set at first base with Triston Casas.

On the MLB roster moving Renfroe for Bradley presumably opens a hole.  If the Sox are targeting Bradley as the starter in 2022 I think that’s a mistake.  Alex Verdugo presumably shifts to right field now where for whatever reason he looked like a stud defender rather than in left or center where he did not.  If that put Kiké in center and the Sox have a question in left field.  Options exist there.  Jarren Duran potentially could get a run out and of course this opens up the option of a Kyle Schwarber reunion rather nicely.  Frankly with JD Martinez on the roster the Sox could acquire any hitter they wanted and just roll JDM out there though I don’t love that plan. Hamilton is an interesting get.  He looks like a utility type with some great wheels (52 steals in 2021) and I can see him being a Brock Holt style acquisition.

More generally I like what the Sox have done in the run up to the lockout. The acquisitions of Hill, Michael Wacha and James Paxton may not be exciting but they are steady and sturdy moves;

Martin Perez 2021: 4.74 ERA
Rich Hill 2021: 3.86
Rich Hill 2022 Proj*: 3.93

Garrett Richards 2021: 4.87
Michael Wacha 2021: 5.05
Michael Wacha 2022 Proj: 4.90
*per BBRef

Like I said, not exciting moves but useful enough.  Paxton’s contract seems to be $10 million guaranteed and an option for two more years totaling $35 million over the three years oh I have no freakin’ clue.  The reporting on this is all over the map but the general numbers suggest numbers that are perfectly reasonable for a guy who can be very good when he’s on his game though of course he’s missed the bulk of the last two seasons so some tempering of the optimism is appropriate.

What the Sox have done though is solidify the roster in advance of the lockout.  This is a small thing but the Sox are set to enter the 2022 season tomorrow.  I’d like some work done but if the lockout drags into January or beyond while other teams are scrambling Bloom has some luxury of laying back.  That’s not to say he should or will but pitching depth is so important in the modern game and the Sox have a whole host of useful pitching.  The lineup is secure (save the aforementioned left field question but they have options there), the rotation is sturdy and while the bullpen probably could use a boost the additions of Wacha and Hill probably push Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck to relief roles which changes the outlook of that unit pretty aggressively.  Suddenly the Sox have Whitlock, Houck, Darwinzon, Barnes, Taylor, Sawamura, Davis and Brasier out there and the starters plus guys like Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski and Connor Seabold presumably ready to help in swing roles as needed.

In other news Alex Speier reported overnight that there will not be a Rule 5 draft this year due to the lockout.  This means some guys the Sox were concerned about losing are no longer at risk including Gilberto Jimenez (quiet down Darren).  So for now it’s hurry up and wait time.  If you are having baseball withdrawal I will remind you that if you have an MLB.tv login that every night there are three games from the Dominican League on TV.  Kutter Crawford has pitched very well down there and familiar names including Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and of course superstar Franchy Cordero* are on display.

* you won’t believe this but Cordero struck out last night on a pitch that bounced in front of the plate.

Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: December 02, 2021 at 08:12 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Darren Posted: December 02, 2021 at 12:45 PM (#6055860)
I thought the contract for Paxton was pretty straight forward: 1/10 with one team option for 2/25. Are there reports that it is different from this?
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 02, 2021 at 12:48 PM (#6055863)
I thought the contract for Paxton was pretty straight forward: 1/10 with one team option for 2/25. Are there reports that it is different from this?

Yes. There are player options as well.
   3. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: December 02, 2021 at 01:40 PM (#6055879)
Yeah I've seen all kinds of stuff on it. I think it's $6 million for year one, a club option for '23 and '24 of about $25 million but if that's declined there is a player option for $4 million. It's all got me perplexed. Anyway, 1/10 or 3/35 give or take is a rough enough approximation and I'm comfortable in my assessment of the deal based on that.

Also the Rule 5 draft is postponed, not canceled so Gilberto Jimenez is still at risk Darren.
   4. Darren Posted: December 02, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6055885)
Way to get my hopes up!
   5. Darren Posted: December 02, 2021 at 02:13 PM (#6055886)
From Szymborski's Fangraphs article:

Having had surgery in April, Paxton will not be available for innings at the start of the 2022 season, which explains the structure of his deal with Boston. The base contract is a $6 million salary for 2022, with the two-year, $26 million club option covering ’23 and ’24. If the option is declined after this season, Paxton will have to decide whether or not to exercise the conditional player option, either taking $4 million for 2023 or becoming a free agent.


Wow, I like that a lot better than what I thought it was. At the least, it pushes $4 mil. off of this year and into 2022.
   6. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 02, 2021 at 03:24 PM (#6055912)
and the Sox are hopefully set at first base with Triston Casas.


The Sox are hopefully set at 3B too!

(save the aforementioned left field question but they have options there),


Duran, JBJ, & ???
   7. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 02, 2021 at 08:38 PM (#6055973)
To Jose and the gang here:

How do you think Chaim looks at the state of the Red Sox at this moment (and does it match how you see it right now?):

1) This is a team that overachieved in 2021, but we should be legitimately better in 2022: We'll have Sake for the full year; we have more starting pitching depth; we'll probably have Schwarber for the full year. And we've been able to do it while quickly, dramatically, improving our minor-league system. We may not win more games in 2022 than we did in 2021, but we'll be a better team.

2) This team overachieved by a lot in 2021, and it may be setting overly-optimistic expectations for 2022. Let's face it: A lot of things went really well in 2021 than we can't count on replicating in 2022. The rotation was historically healthy - do you really think Eovaldi is going to make 32 starts again in 2022? Renfroe and Kike were much better than we expected. Dalbec had an amazing second half; Ottavino was crazy in the first half. We lost ERod.Our farm system is a ton better than it was a few years ago, but most of the help isn't really coming until the end of 2022 and beyond. We'll be competitive, but we are not really a legit World Series contender quite yet - and we shouldn't be making long-term commitments to big name free agents until next off-season.

3) Actually, we are a World Series contender. Casas will probably be up by the All-Star break; we'll have Arroyo for a full season at 2B; Xander and Raffy are in their prime; we'll go Schwarber/Kike/Verdugo, with JBJ as the 4th outfielder, getting plenty of work as a defenisve replacement, giving guys a day off, etc. JD will give us another good year. And the rotation? Waaay better than this point a year ago: Eovaldi/Sale/Castillo or Manaea/Pivetta/Wacha or Hill, with some good depth behind them. The bullpen? We can go Houck, Whitlock, Barnes will get it figured out, Brasier was excellent at the end of the year. And we've got ammo in the minors to trade this winter and at the deadline next year. We are going for the ring in 2022, and we should!

I'm probably #1: the organization is getting very strong, very quickly. The team is equipped to win 90 games without needing a ton of good luck. But I don't think they are quite ready to enter the season as a legit WS contender. They need their minor-league system to advance one more season: it is entirely possible that a year from now, Casas will have finished the season as the starting 1B in Boston; that Jeter Downs will have restored his value and enter 2023 as a legit 2B option; that one or more of Seabold, Winckowski, Bello and others will be legit options for the 2023 rotation; that Houck and/or Whitlock will have established themselves as even more advanced; and a lot of contracts will come off the books to *then* make a big splash in free agency.
   8. villageidiom Posted: December 02, 2021 at 09:18 PM (#6055981)
I'm at #1, but although I think they overachieved in 2021 given I was the most optimistic here I don't believe they overachieved by much. I would almost be at #3 as well, except the AL East keeps getting better, too. The fourth place team had >90 wins last year!
   9. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: December 02, 2021 at 09:27 PM (#6055984)
I think it is some combination of 1 and 3. I think they believe they are a World Series contender (as they should) but I think they are more focused on getting back to Theo’s hundred million dollar player development machine. I think/hope they’ve realized that for all the money you need to have those building blocks to work with. If I had to guess they are looking at Schwahbah and Suzuki as outfield options. I don’t think they are looking at the biggest ticket free agents out there more because of need (bunch of shortstops out there but we got one) and they feel comfortable with what they are doing on the pitching staff.

One thing I’ve noticed is they seem to be getting linked to Correa an awful lot. I suspect that’s agent-planted stalking horse type stuff but it’s caught my attention. I’d be shocked if they ever get close to a deal with him but it’s been noticeable.

I will say I don’t expect a meaningful pitcher acquisition (e.g Manaea) though I’d love it. I think they are done with the rotation trusting that the six they have plus Houck/Seabold/Wincowski/Crawford covers them reasonably. I have a hunch that these moves may be a sign that Garrett Whitlock is locked in where he is. That doesn’t mean they won’t go for a splash move at the deadline if the situation warrants it. To address this; we've got ammo in the minors to trade this winter and at the deadline next year. We are going for the ring in 2022, and we should! I think that’s where they plan to be regularly. But to make those deals you need the chips and they have them. One thing they are going to be able to do this year is hit the draft hard with two early extra picks (compensation for not signing Fabian last year and the EdRod pick).
   10. The Mighty Quintana Posted: December 03, 2021 at 02:50 PM (#6056040)
I am thinking we're sort of where the Orioles were in mid 80's...coming off a wildly successful 20 years but now everything needs to break right (role players hit, platoons work, inconsistent pitchers produce) around our core of superstars (Devers, Bogaerts, Sale) in order to contend. The Orioles doubled down on veterans, and ignored defense (what had really made them great). And they were losing a lot of games a couple years later. So I like the Renfroe move, and I'd like to see them shuffle the IF defense (Bogey to 3b, Devers to 1B, Hernandez to 2B) and then get a really good defensive shortstop. Maybe local boy Nick Ahmed?
   11. DCA Posted: December 03, 2021 at 03:21 PM (#6056043)
There are two really good offensive and defensive shortstops that can be had for just money. Why not one of them?
   12. villageidiom Posted: December 03, 2021 at 03:29 PM (#6056045)
I suspect if they shift Bogaerts to another position for 2022 it will be his final season in Boston.
   13. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: December 03, 2021 at 03:39 PM (#6056050)
I am thinking we're sort of where the Orioles were in mid 80's...coming off a wildly successful 20 years but now everything needs to break right (role players hit, platoons work, inconsistent pitchers produce) around our core of superstars (Devers, Bogaerts, Sale) in order to contend.


I think there is a case to be made that this is where they've been the last 2 years. Everything kinda broke right in 2021 but with Bloom building the system I don't think there is a particular need for good fortune. They've got some studs in the lineup, the pitching is adequate (they need one of Eovaldi or Sale to be what Eovaldi was last year) and the bullpen, as last year, has some potential but being a bullpen that potential can go either way.

I suspect if they shift Bogaerts to another position for 2022 it will be his final season in Boston.


I love Xander and my preference would be to keep Xander in a Sox uniform for life. But if he leaves because they've Carlos Correa here for the next 7-8 years that's not a terrible thing by any stretch from a pure baseball standpoint (it's somewhat disappointing from a fan standpoint just because I love Xander).
   14. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 03, 2021 at 03:51 PM (#6056052)
I suspect if they shift Bogaerts to another position for 2022 it will be his final season in Boston.


I love Xander and my preference would be to keep Xander in a Sox uniform for life. But if he leaves because they've Carlos Correa here for the next 7-8 years that's not a terrible thing by any stretch from a pure baseball standpoint (it's somewhat disappointing from a fan standpoint just because I love Xander).

I agree with both of these - ideally the Sox are already in talks with X and not just on a contract extension or FA contact, but if he would be willing to play 3B if a very good SS were signed. I really can't see Bogaerts moving off SS for someone like Ahmed, but if you tell him its for Correa? And it so very clearly makes the team better? Maybe that does it.

   15. villageidiom Posted: December 03, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6056059)
I'm with you on all of that. My comment was a short way of saying "If they're going to move Bogaerts to a different position it had damn well better be because they upgraded at SS."
   16. The Duke Posted: December 03, 2021 at 09:17 PM (#6056094)
When I saw the headline I thought this was the Alec Baldwin thread
   17. Darren Posted: December 05, 2021 at 06:38 PM (#6056285)

I suspect if they shift Bogaerts to another position for 2022 it will be his final season in Boston.

Maybe? or maybe they make the extension this offseason and make the move off SS part of it?
   18. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: December 07, 2021 at 09:14 AM (#6056485)
Any chance Triston Casas can play LF?

1B - Devers
2B - Hernandez
SS - Correa
3B - X
RF - Verdugo
CF - JBJ
LF - sign Schwarber
C - Vazquez
DH - Martinez

Corner bench - Dalbec
Middle infield bench - Arroyo
4th OF - Duran

in '23 Schwarber moves to DH and Casas takes over LF. Hernandez is signed to an extension or Arroyo moves to 2B permanently. If Schwarber isn't signed then Casas takes over 1B and Devers moves to DH.
A LF is needed.

Done and done. On to pitching.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: December 07, 2021 at 09:41 AM (#6056489)
If Devers and Bogaerts are on-board, I like that! That lineup would hit, even if we mark Bradley down for 400 PA's of .220/.300/.360
   20. Darren Posted: December 07, 2021 at 03:19 PM (#6056531)
Seems that the Red Sox are one of the teams interested in Suzuki, which could be lots of fun.

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