The Boston Red Sox have baseballs highest payrolls. They also have one of baseballs highest revenues generated. These facts alone ought to put the Red Sox in play as contenders every single year. Yet, with aging/oft injured pitching, inconsistent bullpen woes, and many holes to fill, they have some issues going into the offseason. To compound these problems, they have a weak farm system and a mandate to slash budget. That’s not exactly ideal framework to build upon.
Yet, I stand by what I said; the Sox are a team that should be in contention year in and year out. So how do I propose going about doing that? Well, through a full retool of the team. Note that this is not the same as a rebuild. The difference is that they will reallocate resources and funds to fill their holes in a more cohesive way, while still preparing to compete next year.
So, in playing fantasy GM, I have some moves I would try to make to allow this to happen. I will preface this chain of moves by admitting that I am not, in fact, the GM and that my proposals may be unlikely, if not possibly impossible, to pull off. I am aware of this, but, I am going to have some fun anyway. What’s the point of playing fantasy GM if you can’t have a little bit of fun, right? So here it goes:
Move Number 1: Trade Mookie Betts to San Diego for Luis Patino, Taylor Trammell, Luis Campusano, and Joey Cantillo.
Lets just rip the bandaid off first. The big move here is obviously the loss of Mookie. That hurts big time. But operating on the assumption that the Red Sox need payroll flexibility and the Mookie likely won’t sign an extension, the next best option is to get as much possible return that you can. Now, I realize the trade proposed is highly unlikely, but here me out. San Diego has the best prospect depth of any team in the mlb. They can afford a big hit to their pool and still maintain a great deal of depth and upside. So in this proposal, they still get to keep Gore and Paddack, they replace Trammell with Mookie (potentially) and they have catching depth already. We, in turn, get a potential Mookie replacement, a stud pitching prospect, and a catching prospect which is barren in our system.
Move Number 2: Trade David Price and CJ Chatham to Texas for Roughned Odor, Hans Crouse, Sherten Apostel
This is purely a salary dump move at this point, with the added goal of trying to continue to add a little upside to the farm. Texas needs and wants pitching, and very likely can’t acquire it through the free agency system. Sending back Odor helps them ease their salary a little bit, and the prospects they give up don’t cripple their future either.
Move Number 3: Trade Nate Eovaldi to Philadelphia for Francisco Morales and Jhailyn Ortiz
Once again, we are in salary dump mode. We take some fliers on a couple prospects with good upside. Meanwhile, Philadelphia gets pitching that they desperately need, and has more then enough payroll flexibility to take the Eovaldi hit and still be in good shape for other additions as well.
Move Number 4: Trade Jackie Bradley Jr., Josh Ockimey, and Nick Northcut to New York Mets for Dominic Smith
The Mets need an OF. We will need a cheap 1B option. We save some money, and the Mets get some value back in prospects. Again, right now, the goal is the save money.
Move Number 4: Non-tender players that are no longer necessary to the team
Sandy Leon and Heath Hembree are you get non-tendered during the arbitration period. This saves an estimate of 4.5 million dollars. Not a lot at all, but every little bit helps. Also, both Brian Johnson and Sam Travis will be cut from the 40 man roster, as they have no options remaining.
Move Number 5: Have Dustin Pedroia retire and hire him as an infield coach
Dustin Pedroia should not play again at this point, and the Red Sox should not count on him doing so. However, he is a great mentor for players, so if you can somehow convince him to retire and take on a role of coach, that would be the best of all worlds.
To summarize, so far we have saved roughly 95 million off of our payroll that started around 225 million, leaving us with a current payroll of 130 million, with about 70 million to play with in free agency. So, here are the free agency moves I would be looking to make to fill the rest of the gaps.
Free agency signing 1: Sign Gerrit Cole to a deal with AAV of 30-32 mil/year.
Free agency signing 2: Sign Julio Teheran to a deal with AAV of 8-10 mil/year
Free agency signing 3: Sign Tanner Roark to a deal with AAV of 8-10 mil/year
Free agency signing 4: Sign Martin Maldonado to a deal with AAV of 1-1.5 mil/year
Free agency signing 5: Sign Colin McHugh to a deal with AAV of 4-5 mil/year
Free agency signing 6: Sign Billy Hamilton to a deal with AAV of 3-4 mil/year
Free agency signing 7: Sign Yasiel Puig to a deal with AAV of 8-10 mil/year
This would fill out our 26 man active roster (shown below) with a payroll of about 200 million, leaving 8 million of wiggle room for other in season needs. Finally, we would have to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. These players for us would be Bobby Dalbec, Marcus Wilson, Eduard Bazardo, Yoan Aybar, and Chad De La Guerra.
C: Christian Vazquez
1B: Dominic Smith
2B: Roughned Odor
SS: Xander Bogaerts
3B: Rafael Devers
LF: Andrew Benintendi
CF: Billy Hamilton
RF: Yasiel Puig
DH: JD Martinez
Bench: Michael Chavis, Marco Hernandez, Tzu-Wei Lin, Martin Maldonado
SP: Gerrit Cole
SP: Chris Sale
SP: Eduardo Rodriguez
SP: Julio Teheran
SP: Tanner Roark
RP: Brandon Workman
RP: Matt Barnes
RP: Darwinzon Hernandez
RP: Josh Taylor
RP: Josh Osich
RP: Ryan Brasier
RP: Marcus Walden
RP: Colin McHugh
Additional players on the 40-man roster that are not on the active roster:
IF: Chad De La Guerra, Bobby Dalbec
OF: Marcus Wilson
P: Colten Brewer, Hector Velázquez, Denyi Reyes, Trevor Kelley, Bobby Poyner, Ryan Weber, Mike Shawaryn, Eduard Bazardo, Yoan Aybar
This leaves 2 additional 40 man roster spots to play with minor league signings or invites to spring training, or whatever else is necessary.
And, there you have it. The moves I made accomplished three goals. First and foremost, it gets us completely under the luxury tax for 2020. Second, we brought in a lot of prospects to help immediately rebuild our farm system. Third, we have a roster that should be able to compete in 2020 by improving the depth of the rotation, building an offense around a fantastic core of players by bringing in many players with solid ceilings and potential, and building a bullpen that is not great but is solid enough to hold its own.
Again, I realize most, of not all of the moves I made, are incredibly unlikely if not impossible to occur. But, what’s the point of doing this if we can’t have a little fun right? Now all that’s left is to sit back and stress about what the REAL Red Sox end up doing this offseason!