With the Red Sox’ first spring training game just over a week away, there still remains a large number of free agents who haven’t signed. Some are big names (looking at you Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado), but there are also several under-the-radar guys still available. Our main focus is the under-the-radar guys since Dave Dombrowski has made it clear he is not likely to spend big for the remainder of the offseason. To this point, he has certainly kept his word. Without further ado, let’s take a look at a few interesting, low-key names the Sox could make a run at.
1. Bud Norris
Norris, 33, is coming off a one-year, $3 million contract with the St Louis Cardinals, and has successfully made the transition from starter to reliever ovr the last couple of years. He was a starter early in his career with the Astros and Orioles, with his debut coming back in 2009, but has been in a more of a setup/closer role since 2017. Norris has proven solid out of the bullpen, posting FIPs of 3.90 and 3.99, respectively, over the last two seasons while also striking out over 10 batters per 9 innings. He’s saved a total of 47 games over the past two seasons as well. However, it hasn’t been all roses. Norris has been prone for blowups, and after a rough week in September last year, his ERA skyrocketed from 2.85 up to the mid-3’s and he lost his closing job. It was also reported that Norris is vocally ‘old-school’, and caused issues with some of the younger players in the Cardinals’ bullpen last year. However, Norris is a solid, veteran guy who can eat up innings, and on a cheap deal, he may provide value to a Red Sox team that already has a strong and stable clubhouse in place.
2. Tyler Clippard
Clippard is a guy in a very similar state as Sergio Romo, who just signed with the Marlins earlier this week. He’s an aging reliever coming off of a recent, cheap one-year contract. After a rough 2017, Clippard bounced back in 2018, throwing to the tune of a 3.67 ERA and 11.14 K/9. He cut down his walk rate significantly, and created swinging strikes at the second-highest rate of his career. Clippard won’t wow fans with his velocity, but he’ll provide innings and depth to the bullpen. And, he’ll come cheap, which is exactly what we’re looking for.
3. Josh Harrison
Two-time all-star Josh Harrison, also known as ‘J-Hay’, had his $10.5 million club option declined by the Pittsburgh Pirates in October, sending him to free agency. Harrison, like the aforementioned names, is not super flashy, but outside of this past year he has been a solid hitter and above-average defender since his breakout year in 2014. He did have a rough 2018, posting a .656 OPS, but dealt with injuries that caused him to play in just 97 games. Despite this, he is a versatile player who can man both second and third base, positions the Red Sox could use depth in. Eduardo Núñez was horrendous last year, Rafael Devers showed growth pains, and, at this point, it is difficult to expect Dustin Pedroia to play a full season this year. At 31, and with the current market for free agents, I don’t expect Harrison to get more than a 1 or 2-year deal worth 4-5 million a year, a rate that is definitely affordable for a Red Sox that could be hurting for infield depth.