The MLB hot stove has been burning more fiercely this year with some blockbuster deals so far. Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon signed a pair of seven-year contracts worth $245 million each, while Gerrit Cole secured $324 million in a nine-year deal with the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox have not made any moves of that magnitude. Not even close. But that’s not the theme of this offseason for the Red Sox with new Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.
The hiring of Bloom has been the best move the Red Sox have made this offseason. Boston has made it a primary goal this offseason to get under the $208 million luxury threshold while still putting a championship contender on the field next year. That is quite a challenging feat, but Bloom is the guy that could accomplish that. He is the polar opposite of Dave Dombrowski, which is why this offseason has lacked the excitement of previous ones.
All the deals have been under-the-radar, secondary signings that we should get used to with Bloom in charge. Before giving my overall evaluation, let’s look at what the Red Sox have done so far.
Red Sox Moves of the Offseason
- The Red Sox traded catcher Sandy Leon to the Cleveland Indians for Adenys Bautista, a raw 21-year-old pitcher who hasn’t advanced past rookie ball. With this move, the Red Sox saved some money while getting a pitcher with some potential upside.
- They claimed left-handed reliever Josh Osich off waivers and then non-tendered him to sign him back for less money. Osich could be some help in the Red Sox bullpen next season, an area that was horrendous in 2019.
- They made a similar move with infielder Marco Hernandez by non-tendering him and then signing him back to save money. These are some nickel-and-dime moves that will likely come to define Bloom’s tenure.
- The Red Sox acquired infielder Jonathan Arauz in the Rule 5 Draft from the Houston Astros. He’s only 21 and could definitely help the depth of the middle infield with experience playing both shortstop and second base in the minors.
- In a move that fulfills a similar need, the Sox signed utility man Jose Peraza to a one-year deal. Peraza, 25, was once a top prospect, but he was released by the Cincinnati Reds after a down year.
- The Red Sox also gave a one-year deal to starting pitcher Martin Perez. He’s an eight-year veteran who spent last year with the Minnesota Twins. Perez’s stats aren’t exactly flattering with a career 4.72 ERA and 4.48 FIP, but he seems to be an acceptable replacement for Rick Porcello, who signed with the New York Mets. With the left-hander Perez, four out of the five Boston starters at the moment are southpaws.
- Finally, they claimed pitcher Chris Mazza off waivers from the Mets. There’s not much to say about Mazza, who is 30 and made his first nine appearances in the majors this past season, but he is apparently related to Joe DiMaggio.
As I said, none of these deals are flashy or particularly interesting to anybody outside a die-hard fan. So at this point, the Red Sox have an offseason grade of a C+. They’ve made some interesting moves, but nothing beyond that. They still need a backup catcher. They have yet to really address the glaring bullpen issues. And first base is still a question mark with Mitch Moreland gone. Plus, at this time, they are still at least $20 million over the luxury tax.
However, we are not even close to the end of the offseason yet. That grade can be easily swayed with their decisions to trade players like David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr. or Mookie Betts. If the Red Sox are able to get decent returns for Price or Bradley while going under the luxury tax threshold, it would be an A- grade offseason. They will have accomplished everything they wanted with a rebuilt farm system and a still-good major league roster.
If they decide to trade Betts, the best player in baseball not named Mike Trout, that grade will fall to a F-. The only reason they should be cutting payroll is so they can pay Betts whatever he wants next year. So trading him would be the most counterproductive move imaginable. He’s a franchise player that they should continue to build around for the next decade.
Even though it’s been very boring compared to previous years, this offseason has actually been pretty productive for the Red Sox. But it is still a work in progress. As long as Bloom and Company continue this trend and don’t do anything stupid (like trade Mookie), the team will be in a solid position for a bounce-back season when spring training begins.