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Potential free agents to sign to minor-league deals

The Red Sox aren’t signing major-league deals for the time being, so the least they could do is hand out a couple of minor-league deals.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Red Sox offense has never really gotten going, as it seems everything hinges on them moving some salary before they can make any other moves. When Travis Shaw signed with the Blue Jays, it was reported the Red Sox didn’t want to offer him a contract before they cleared some salary first. As frustrating as it may be, and as crazy as I may be going, there’s nothing we can do to change it. In the meantime, even if it’s just as an olive branch to yours truly, what they could do is sign a few veterans to minor-league deals that include invites to spring training and an opt out at the end of camp. These are obviously very common as spring training approaches — and the Red Sox have handed some out already — and they aren’t guaranteed. The Red Sox should be able to justify this even with their self-imposed salary restraints.

To be fair, this is easier said than done. The Red Sox can want to sign as many of these guys as they want, but the player has to actually want to come to the Red Sox, too. A big part of the calculation for these veterans is figuring out which roster gives them the best chance to make the Opening Day roster and get that salary guaranteed. With Boston, it’s impossible to tell because no one can be anything close to sure about what the roster will look like. Still, these deals are starting to happen — the Giants in particular have been active on this market — so it’s worth having some more conversations if they haven’t already. As far as who they could look at, well, that’s what the rest of this post is about!

Miami Marlins v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

First Basemen

The Red Sox haven’t indicated they need a left-handed first baseman, but having one next to Michael Chavis and/or Bobby Dalbec wouldn’t hurt.

Greg Bird

The former Yankee prospect hasn’t really been able to get his career off the ground due to injury, and when he has played he hasn’t been great. Still, there is left-handed power here and at this point it’s hard to see him getting a major-league deal, particularly as he struggles in Winter Ball. He gets bonus points for seeming more likely to forgo his opt out for Triple-A playing time.

Yonder Alonso

Among all free agent first basemen on the market this year, none were less valuable than Alonso by fWAR. He was much better in the second half with the Rockies, though, and over his career has been a good hitter against righties. He probably doesn’t stick around if he doesn’t win a job, but it’s worth giving him the chance if he can’t find a major-league deal anywhere.

Logan Morrison

Morrison is another veteran coming off a rough year, though he mashed in Triple-A earlier in the year, mostly with the Yankees. This could be his last chance, so he’ll at least be motivated in camp. After spending significant time riding the busses last year, I’m not sure he’ll want to do that again in 2020.

Matt Adams

Adams might still get a major-league offer, but if he does it won’t be a big one. After pretty consistently being a good platoon bat at first base, he struggled last year and finished with a wRC+ of only 87. He’s probably the hardest guy to sign on this list, but also the best.

Lucas Duda

Duda was truly atrocious last year, finishing the season worth -1 win by fWAR despite playing in only 39 games. That’s basically unfathomable. But leading up to that he was a consistent platoon bat as long as you avoided him against lefties at all cost.

Center Fielders

This one is tougher to pull off now, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. on the trade block this could be an attractive spot for outfielders looking for major-league work very quickly.

Billy Hamilton

Hamilton is what the most hyperbolic Red Sox fans think Bradley Jr. is. The latter is frustrating offensively. Hamilton is nonexistent. That said, his defensive is fantastic and his speed is unmatched. At the very least, he’d be exciting at all times he’s not holding a bat.

Guillermo Heredia

There’s honestly not that much to like about Heredia besides being a body who has played center field at the major-league level. As a fourth outfielder he’s fine, but this is indicative of the kind of market we’re looking at here in the outfield.

Rajai Davis

This spot belonged to Joey Rickard until a few minutes before I started writing this, when I learned he signed a minor-league deal with the Giants. Davis is not good, but is still fast despite his age.

Juan Lagares

Lagares once looked like the Mets center fielder of the future, but his bat never came around. He can patrol center field, though.

Starting Pitcher

Again, there isn’t an open rotation spot now but the Red Sox are just one David Price trade away from a spot opening up.

Taijuan Walker

Walker is a former top prospect who has had some solid success at the major league level, but he’s also only thrown 14 innings over the last two years combined. He’s going to need to prove himself in spring, but if he pitches well there he will get a job.

Danny Salazar

I’m not sure Salazar even fits best as a starter at this point, but on a minor-league deal I’d be willing to give him a chance. He’d be a guy for whom you’d need a multi-inning arm ready behind him most days if he did start, but as a four- or five-inning arm there’s some upside. Of course, there’s also plenty of downside given his extensive injury history over the last few years.

Jhoulys Chacín

Fangraphs projected Chacín to get a major-league deal, but I’m not sold on that. The Red Sox are obviously familiar here after he finished 2019 in Boston. There’s not a ton of upside, but the downside isn’t as extreme as the other two names above, either.

Matt Harvey

I think Boston sports radio and the Red Sox internet at large would spontaneously combust if this happened. I want to see the reactions to this. Please.

Relief Pitcher

The Red Sox bullpen is, I think, better than it gets credit for. It can also for sure use some more bodies.

Andrew Cashner

Another friend from the end of last season! Cashner converted to relief at the end of last season and indicated he was considering that shift for this winter anyway. He looked much better as a reliever than as a starter with the Red Sox last year, and while I’m not sold I’d be willing to give him a camp to prove it was real.

Dan Otero

Otero may be able to get a major-league deal, but he is coming off a season where he appeared in only 25 games and has two straight seasons with ERAs of 4.85 or higher. He also doesn’t strike anyone out. The Red Sox have strikeouts in their bullpen, though. Otero would give them a chance at a guy who doesn’t walk anyone and gets a ton of grounders, a profile that can be valuable in the right situations.

Nick Vincent

Vincent was long extremely underrated for being consistently good, but not elite. He only got a minor-league deal last year but then struggled with San Francisco before joining the Phillies late in the year and putting up good numbers. I wanted him on this kind of deal last year, so let’s try again.

Nate Jones

Jones hasn’t been healthy for more than a half-season since 2016, but he is one of those guys I will always believe in and want on the Red Sox, for better or for worse.