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Monday, September 28, 2020

Meet the 2021 Boston Red Sox - Position Players

With the 2020 season coming to an end yesterday let’s take a look at what the 2021 Boston Red Sox look like at this very early date.  For these purposes I’m going with the 26 man roster that the 2020 season was supposed to feature.  Obviously depending on what happens with the plague and the whole world coming to an end thing may change this but we gotta start somewhere. Starters in bold.

Infield: Bobby Dalbec, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Tzu-Wei Lin, Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis

Others: C.J. Chatham, Dustin Pedroia, Jeter Downs, Jonathan Arauz, Triston Casas

I guess in theory Arroyo is probably the “starter” at the moment but I expect that the Sox will make some kind of move to fill the second base slot.  I do not expect that move to be a major move though potentially it could be a key contributor.  Thinking back over the years the Sox have done well with low profile/high reward second base moves over the years; Denny Doyle, Luis Alicea, Todd Walker, Mark Bellhorn, they all played important roles.  Obviously the left side of the infield is stacked though Devers is clearly a work in progress defensively.  Dalbec is a high ceiling/low floor guy at first base though I feel optimistic about his future.  As a long time Sox fan I get pretty fired up when I see a right-handed slugger in the lineup.

Arauz looked comfortable this year though he has some development to do and a year at PawtucketWorcester would probably do him some good.  Casas looks like a guy on the fast train to Boston though potentially blocked some by Dalbec.  Chatham and Downs will start the year in PawtucketWorcester but I expect both to get some big league time in 2021.

Outfield: Andrew Benintendi, Jarren Duran, Alex Verdugo, Yairo Munoz

Others: Jackie Bradley Jr.

Fair to say the Sox are thin in the outfield.  I am not fully convinced that Duran comes to camp as the starter but I think it’s possible.  Munoz was fun this year but count me as someone a bit skeptical of him.  I think the Sox make a move here as well and I would not be entirely shocked if it’s a big one with George Springer on the FA market.  I think the more likely move is a Chris Young type move with a versatile righty brought in as a pillow for Duran.  To be honest I think how they approach the outfield will tell us more about what the Sox are planning than any comments they make.  If they go with Duran/“Young” then they are conceding that 2021 is a building season.  A more aggressive move is a sign that they are looking to go for it.

Benintendi is the big X factor here.  2020 was a lost year for him but it’s worth remember he is just 26 next season.  I think a look at the recently retired Alex Gordon is instructive.  At the same age Gordon was yo-yoing between Kansas City and Omaha after a couple of disappointing years.  He eventually found his game.  Benny is a similar player and I can see his career arc looking like Gordon (hopefully with the age 31 title for his only team in 2026).  Verdugo clearly lived up to all billing.  Not too many people can say things worked out perfectly for them in 2020 but Doogs is one of them.  A full season would have meant lots of “what? We traded Mookie for an injured guy who missed the first two months?”  Instead he hit the ground running and had a terrific season.

I list Bradley because I think there is a chance he comes back.  Free Agency this year is going to be weird and Bradley is a guy that I can see slipping through the cracks.  The Boras client is going to want to hit big in what is likely his one shot at big money (and who can blame him?*).  But, he is a guy that given the economic uncertainty of the time and the way the game has changed that may find the suitors few and far between for a long term deal.  If the Sox offer him a qualifying offer I think there is a chance he accepts and frankly I’d be cool with that.  While not a perfect match for the roster it would allow Duran some time to settle (perhaps in PawtucketWorcester and let things pan out a bit.

* answer: Sports radio mouth breathers

Catcher: Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki

Others: J.T. Realmuto

Vazquez is by all measures a very reasonable option for the Sox.  He is cost controlled, good and pretty popular with a fanbase that has taken a few hits in recent years.  I don’t see a big likelihood of him moving on.  Plawecki is technically a free agent but the job he did should put him on the Sox short list of guys for that spot. If he doesn’t sign then someone else will be brought in who is Kevin Plawecki in all but name.

So about that “others” name.  This is another spot that the Sox may go to make a splash in the free agent market.  Realmuto is a terrific player and could be a real splash.  One thing about Realmuto that makes him a bit more appealing to me than a 30 year old catcher might otherwise be is that I think he has the ability to move out from behind the plate and contribute down the road. His bat is sufficient that if he moves to the outfield/3B/1B in a few years he can be a useful guy.

DH: JD Martinez

Villageidiom raised the theory that JDM would get dealt if he didn’t opt out but I think that is unlikely.  If you’re the Sox trading him seems like a sell low situation. You let him play the first half and if you are in the playoff mix ride it out, if you are outside looking in then he hopefully rebuilds his value and you trade him for what is a more reasonable return.  I do not think he will opt out after the disaster that was 2020 for him.  I think in a perfect world where Devers, Dalbec and Casas all pan out this slot is occupied by one of those three guys in a couple of years while the other two play the corners.  But with two years left on his deal the I expect the Sox will ride JDM.

So that’s the position player list at the moment.  I’m sure I’m overlooking some contributors.  I will say I don’t expect either Springer or Realmuto to be in carmine hose next April but I think it is a reasonable enough possibility that both names were worth raising.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 28, 2020 at 08:59 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Darren Posted: September 28, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5979351)
The Red Sox announcers also said that Plawecki was a free agent, but Baseball Reference says he's only got 3.167 years of service time, and isn't free until 2023. ???
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 28, 2020 at 11:32 AM (#5979362)
Yeah, so it looks like he's not a free agent yet but is also highly likely not to be offered arbitration so the expectation is the Sox will work something out with him or he'll be non-tendered.
   3. Darren Posted: September 28, 2020 at 11:53 AM (#5979366)
Why do you think he won't get arb? What's the most he'd receive, $2-3 Mil?
   4. Darren Posted: September 28, 2020 at 12:14 PM (#5979376)
Also, nice write up!

One thing I would consider if I were the Red Sox: sign either Semien or Simmons to play SS, shift Xander to 3B and Raffy to 1B, to really sure of the defense. In the OF, signing Bradley for 1-3 years sounds good to me, something like 2/$20m? I would not offer him the QO, as I don't think he'll get close to that on the open market. Other options include Springer, Pederson, Ozuna, and Brantley, depending on how you want to align the OF and how you feel about each of their defenses.

On JD, I agree that he's going to be hard to trade if he doesn't opt out. He was so bad this year that other teams are not going to want to pay him close to what he's getting, even if they have a better idea about his contract than they have in the past.
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 28, 2020 at 01:27 PM (#5979390)
Why do you think he won't get arb? What's the most he'd receive, $2-3 Mil?


Cost certainty. Why spend any time on having to work out an arb deal with Kevin Plawecki when you can probably find the exact same guy on whatever price you are willing to pay? That said I think the likeliest outcome is the Sox work something out with him. If it does get to the point where the Sox need to offer him arbitration then they'd let him walk.

Raffy to 1B


I don't love Devers at 1st. He's not particularly tall. I don't think he'd be bad, but I don't think he'd be especially good either. I'd rather have a good first baseman/bad third baseman than a bad first baseman/good third baseman.

Also, nice write up!


Thank you kindly. Weird year on so many levels as a Sox fan. I feel a hell of a lot better than I felt a few months ago about where the club is headed which makes it a bit easier. Part of the reason I started doing the Perfect Schedule is I just wasn't ready to write regularly about them yet.
   6. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: September 28, 2020 at 01:51 PM (#5979395)
I expect that the Sox will make some kind of move to fill the second base slot.  I do not expect that move to be a major move though potentially it could be a key contributor. 


Hard to argue with that!
   7. karlmagnus Posted: September 28, 2020 at 09:23 PM (#5979484)
Do we know which draft pick we get next summer? Should be #4, right? If so, chance for a really decent pickup if the scouts do their job.
   8. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 29, 2020 at 08:07 AM (#5979503)
Nothing official yet but it seemed like the rumor mill was suggesting it would be based solely on 2020 record which would put us 4th. But that is not definitive.
   9. pikepredator Posted: September 29, 2020 at 12:10 PM (#5979537)
Great write-up. I mostly lurk here (life is just too busy for much participation right now) and so I am very appreciative of the work you do, Jose.
   10. villageidiom Posted: September 29, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5979558)
On the JDM thing...

If he doesn't opt out, here's what we have:

- Player entering his age 33 season
- Mostly a DH now
- Other than crazy COVID year has been reliable for at least 4 WAR on offense every year
- Prior to crazy pandemic economy, 4 WAR was "worth" something like $32 million per year in the free agent market
- His remaining contract is 2 years at just over $19 million per year

I might be misreading things, but I don't think any team is going to react to his 2020 as being indicative of his future value. 2020 is a weird year, for very obvious reasons, and I think every team will be tempted to overlook it. Like, he can produce 5 WAR across his next two seasons combined and still be worth his contract, so it's really whether teams think he's likely to be better than that - and how much they're willing to give to Boston in return - that will determine his future if he doesn't opt out.

Now, everything I said above applies to Boston as well. They might not overreact to his 2020, in which case Martinez would appear as a player who could be worth far more than his contract. But I think Bloom would rather spend Martinez's salary in a different way, while also bolstering the farm. They have plenty of candidates in Jose's writeup who could be the new DH. (I'm thinking Chavis, though Dalbec is more the prototype.)

They don't need to trade JDM, but if they can get something of value in return I think they will. And I think the barrier is less about whether other teams think he's worth his contract, and more about whether Boston will be satisfied with what other teams are willing to give up to get that contract.

And of course, all of that is contingent on an age-33 DH deciding to defer free agency until his age-35 season instead of looking now while recent bad performance is plausibly just a blip.
   11. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 29, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5979570)
I guess the difference in my thinking is teams are NOT going to give reasonable value for JDM (I'm also based on what you said a lot less optimistic about Chavis than you are, I think he's Middlebrooks 2.0 at best). Yeah if you can deal Martinez for value then you have to explore it but I just don't think that's likely.
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 29, 2020 at 03:54 PM (#5979610)
How many teams that might be willing to pay $19M/year to a 34-year old DH for the next two seasons actually have an opening at the position? Don’t see many likely trade partners. Could look a little different at the trade deadline if a team has an inopportune injury or revisits its budget because they have a chance to make the playoffs, assuming Martinez is playing well, but my guess is that Martinez remains in Boston, unless the Red Sox decide to give him away for a bit of financial relief with little in return.
   13. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: September 29, 2020 at 04:58 PM (#5979636)
Chavis provides more value than Middlebrooks because he's able to play more positions. Assuming he doesn't go blind, he should be ok going forward. Not great, but maybe good enough if they're on a budget.
   14. The Mighty Quintana Posted: September 29, 2020 at 07:37 PM (#5979683)
I guess the comps (best-case) for Chavis would be: Dozier and Uggla. I think those guys were stronger, so maybe 20-25-HR instead of 30-40. OK if the D is passable....
   15. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 29, 2020 at 11:01 PM (#5979708)
Verdugo
Xander
Devers
JD
Dalbec
Chavis
Bennie
Vazquez
Durran

That top half is pretty good, but that's not a line up that will have any pitching staffs shaking in their boots.
   16. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 30, 2020 at 08:57 AM (#5979733)
How many teams that might be willing to pay $19M/year to a 34-year old DH for the next two seasons actually have an opening at the position? Don’t see many likely trade partners. Could look a little different at the trade deadline if a team has an inopportune injury or revisits its budget because they have a chance to make the playoffs, assuming Martinez is playing well, but my guess is that Martinez remains in Boston, unless the Red Sox decide to give him away for a bit of financial relief with little in return.


If Boston eats a large chunk of his contract, there's no reason they couldn't get something pretty good in return. Martinez DOES have value, just maybe not anything more than his contract.
   17. Darren Posted: September 30, 2020 at 02:08 PM (#5979808)
How many teams that might be willing to pay $19M/year to a 34-year-old [actually 33] DH for the next two seasons actually have an opening at the position? Don’t see many likely trade partners.


I'd go further than this. Even in the abstract, without trying to match him up to a team, who wants to pay 2/$38 million for a DH coming off a terrible, though shortened and screwy, year? Encarnacion got 1/$12 million coming off a fine year. Two years ago, Cruz got 2/$24 million. Both are older, but Martinez is pretty old. Last offseason, Martinez was a year younger and coming off a great season, and still decided to stay. Then there's COVID.

I was completely wrong about him last year so maybe I'll be wrong again.
   18. Darren Posted: October 02, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5980549)
How about that Jon Lester contract? It's ending now and it seems like it was a bit pricey for what he produced. 13 bWAR, 17 fWAR for $156 million, vs 9 bWAR, 13 fWAR for $95 million for Porcello. So, good move?
   19. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 02, 2020 at 01:07 PM (#5980552)
I don't know if I'd say good move but a good reminder of the difference between paying for what someone has done and what someone will do is important. The bigger issue with Lester is the dominoes that followed;

Re-sign Lester in 2014
No trade for Cespedes and no trade for Porcello
Some other pitcher gets acquired but more on the level of Porcello
No Price contract
My guess is one of Sandoval or Hanley doesn't get signed.

I think there is a good chance the room under the Luxury Tax exists for Mookie at that point even with the Sale trade (which is feasible). There's probably a long post to be made on that alternate universe (note: not by me, where's MCoA when we need him?). But I think the difference between Porcello and Lester not being quite so great is something to keep in mind.
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: October 02, 2020 at 01:16 PM (#5980558)
Technically, Lester got paid less than that because of the pro-ration of this year's salary.
   21. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 02, 2020 at 01:50 PM (#5980574)
As usual, nice job by Jose!

As you note, we'll get a good sense of the team's outlook on 2021 by whether or not they deal with 2B and/or the OF by doing one of three things:

1) Big splash in free agency
2) Free agent stopgaps on 1-2 year contracts
3) Throwing the young guys out there and let them learn.

The funny thing is, once in a while, a team catches lightning by doing #2. I would argue the 2013 Red Sox were kind of like this:

At 1B, they traded Adrian Gonzalez as part of the salary dump the previous year, and finished the season with James Loney. They had nothing set at 1B entering 2013...so they signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal.

In the OF, they needed to replace Daniel Nava and Cody Ross, so they signed Shane Victorino to a three-year deal, and Jonny Gomes to a two-year deal.

At SS, they needed to replace Mike Aviles, and they ended up signing Stephen Drew to a one-year deal.

I would not say any of them played way above expectations (Napoli was probably the best, and Victorino was a valuable player. Drew was never well-liked in Boston, and Gomes was beloved for his style more than anything, but he was a pretty average player.)

All four of these guys were eventually traded in deadline deals in 2014 or 2015, for nothing of note.

I could see the Red Sox waiting the FA market out, finding some values along these lines, and playing them until guys like Duran and Downs are ready for the bigs. If the veterans play out of their minds, it would likely mean the team will contend for the playoffs, because they'll be surrounded by Bogaerts, Devers, Sale, ERod, etc. If they suck, the kids will come up sooner. If they play reasonably well, but the team is out of playoff contention, they can be traded at the deadline.
   22. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 03, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5980813)
I would not say any of them played way above expectations (Napoli was probably the best, and Victorino was a valuable player. Drew was never well-liked in Boston, and Gomes was beloved for his style more than anything, but he was a pretty average player.)


On the whole, no, they did not play above expectations, but for 2013? Definitely. Victorino - 6 WAR, Napoli - 3.7, Drew - 2.7, Gomes - 1.6 - 14 wins in one year from middle of the road FA moves is great! I think you are being swayed by their non-Napoli collective massive steaming turd in 2014 (0 Gomes, -.1 Drew, .5 Victorino)
   23. Darren Posted: October 07, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5981597)
Speier recently wrote something in the Globe about how the Red Sox have something like $35-40 million to spend under the $210 million CBT, and I am wondering why he's assuming they'll top out at the CBT? I asked on Twitter and got no answer (how dare he!). If they do plan to stay under, that would be pretty disappointing.

I had thought that they'd go well over for 2021 and then see what the new CBA says.

My wish list, if indeed they keep Xander at SS and Devers at 3B, would be:

--Good starter to slot in at #1 until Sale returns, slides to #2 after: Quintana or Bauer (ick) seem like the best bets. Maybe Hamels?
--Good outfielder. Even if Bradley is retained, JDM and Benintendi are both question marks to a degree. Springer, Pederson, Ozuna...
--Starting 2B: Tough to find a good one, maybe a trade.
--Starting 1B: Any chance Rizzo is available? Santana, ????
--A couple of good relievers.


That's an expensive shopping list, but they should be able to afford most of it.
   24. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 07, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5981600)
Speier recently wrote something in the Globe about how the Red Sox have something like $35-40 million to spend under the $210 million CBT, and I am wondering why he's assuming they'll top out at the CBT? I asked on Twitter and got no answer (how dare he!). If they do plan to stay under, that would be pretty disappointing.


I think they will likely stay under for one more year unless circumstances make it the best option. Just spending for the hell of it isn't a good plan. Pederson is no less a question mark than Benny or JDM, Springer is going to be 31 but he's a true star. Ozuna a year younger but not nearly the player Springer has been (about 2 WAR/year below him). I'd be all over Springer but I think Ozuna is going to get a contract that relies too much on this season.

Bauer, yeah ick, but he's worth the spend especially on a one year deal where if he blows up you let him walk no harm no foul (and I suspect you agree). 37 year old Hamels I'd take on a one year deal but meh. I'd rather see the Sox put the effort into extending Devers and EdRod.
   25. villageidiom Posted: October 07, 2020 at 12:49 PM (#5981608)
I'd rather see the Sox put the effort into extending Devers and EdRod.
This is a need.
   26. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 07, 2020 at 12:52 PM (#5981609)
Starting 1B: Any chance Rizzo is available?
There do seem to be hints that the Cubs may be open to parting with some of their aging core, but what do the Red Sox have to offer in this or other potential trades?
   27. Nasty Nate Posted: October 07, 2020 at 01:03 PM (#5981611)
There do seem to be hints that the Cubs may be open to parting with some of their aging core, but what do the Red Sox have to offer in this or other potential trades?
Not much. But they might have a willingness to take on contracts/salary. And yes, it would be weird to lose talent via a salary dump one off-season, and then do the reverse the following one.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: October 09, 2020 at 11:11 PM (#5982141)
"Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is in talks with RedBall Acquisition Corp. to take the Fenway Sports Group public, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal values Fenway at approximately $8 billion and is not likely to close before the end of the year, said the person, who was granted anonymity because the matter is private.

RedBall is a special acquisition company run by Gerry Cardinale of RedBird Capital and baseball executive Billy Beane . Fenway Sports Group includes the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC of the English Premier League. Details to follow at Sportico.com."
   29. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 11, 2020 at 01:28 AM (#5982363)
Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is in talks with RedBall Acquisition Corp. to take the Fenway Sports Group public, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal values Fenway at approximately $8 billion and is not likely to close before the end of the year . . .
Sounds like the current ownership may be cashing out. Making the balance sheet look good to potential investors may be the priority for this offseason.
   30. Jay Seaver Posted: October 11, 2020 at 09:19 AM (#5982369)
This sounds like the sort of thing that the league would fight tooth and nail to avoid any reporting on actual costs and profits. I think Atlanta is the only other team owned by a public company.
   31. Darren Posted: October 11, 2020 at 04:58 PM (#5982394)
There do seem to be hints that the Cubs may be open to parting with some of their aging core, but what do the Red Sox have to offer in this or other potential trades?


Yeah, not much. I was reading that they might even be considering non-tendering him but that seems very very unlikely.


I think they will likely stay under for one more year unless circumstances make it the best option. Just spending for the hell of it isn't a good plan.


I wouldn't want them spending for the sake of spending of course. But they stunk this year. They have a lot of holes. They can use money to fill the holes and I hope they do. My hope as a fan is that they do something similar to the Dodgers: overspend for a few years while building up their system, so that in 3-4 years they can easily get under the cap without hurting the Major League team very much.
   32. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: October 11, 2020 at 07:14 PM (#5982405)
Starting 1B: Any chance Rizzo is available?


Alfonso Soriano is available.
   33. Darren Posted: October 24, 2020 at 07:00 PM (#5984925)
Let me expand: a year ago, all I heard was "how can the Red Sox with their resources not sign Mookie?" Now that they punted on 2020 with the idea that they'd get under the cap to reset, it's like, 'Hey, for 2021, they probably want to keep it under the limit because they might not be great.'

The Sox could easily spend $70 million and improve their team with every one of those dollars. They should be willing to spend all of that and then do it again next year.
   34. Darren Posted: October 30, 2020 at 05:52 PM (#5986733)
If these estimates from Fangraphs are anywhere near correct, the Red Sox should be scooping up good players on the cheap as much as possible this offseason.

Springer for 5/$115 million
LeMahieu for 3/$30 million
Stroman for 2/$26 million
Simmons for 2/$17 million
Bradley for 2/$18 million
Wong for 2/$15 million
Quintana for 1/$11 million
Hernandez for 1/$9 million
Santana for 1/$8 million

Some combination of these--yes please!

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