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The Flyby: Every Day We’re Shuffling

Which mid-tier free agents do you want?

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

This past week, the topic for our weekly prompt involved finding players to fill out the 2021 roster who weren’t a qualifying offer caliber player. This essentially meant no mention of Trevor Bauer or J.T. Realmuto, or George Springer. If the goal is to hold on to as much draft capital as possible, the team can’t pick up one of those names. So it becomes a question of which next tier talent is the best.

Bosoxsince89’s Shuffle

What they said: While the Red Sox should make a big splash, to play by the rules (thank you), the names the Red Sox should bring in are Alex Colomé, Taijuan Walker, José Quintana, Jurickson Profar, and Jackie Bradley Jr.

I like most of these suggestions.

Colomé has been one of the more quietly consistent arms in baseball over the last five seasons. Of the 35 pitchers since 2016 with 250 innings in that time period, Colomé ranked 12th in fWAR and had the third-lowest ERA in the grouping. For a Red Sox team that needs more than one or two reliable bullpen arms, he would be about as big a get as you can really expect without dipping into the trade market.

American League Wild Card Game 1: Chicago White Sox v. Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I’m also a fan of José Quintana on a one- or two-year deal to bridge the gap to Bryan Mata or another pitching prospect. I’m not sure I like him on a longer deal (he’s still only 31 years old) as he begins his decline from having been a league-average SP over the past three years. What he does bring to the table is generally stable health, this past year aside. You can usually rely on him for about 180 innings a year, or just under that amount. 2020 not withstanding, the last time he finished with fewer than 170 innings in a season was his rookie year in 2012. I see no reason to assume he is broken forever.

I’m less sold on Taijuan Walker. It feels like every year we’re bringing up the ceiling of Walker. I was on board as wanting him as a buy-low option in 2020. This year he pitched well. With 53 innings under his belt in the shortened season and good peripherals, he seems like a lock, right? In a perfect world, I’d love him because I feel he’d be a great depth option. Problem is, Walker wouldn’t view himself as depth, and given his age I worry the contract would exceed his value to the team, even with our desperate need for healthy starting pitching. File this one under “if the price is right”, which generally means “sure, if you can get him on a good deal.” Think the Martín Pérez contract.

Profar is a player I think would be fun to root for, but is also a player I believe is 100 percent guaranteed to have a better opportunity elsewhere unless we’re willing to give him a starting job at second base for a number of years. And with Jeter Downs on the way, and looking like he could potentially be the better player, I’m not sure he’d agree with our proposal. Profar is another player who feels like he has been around forever, but he’s only 27. Profar is also coming off a career best year, in which he hit .278/.343/.428. His unique blend of power and speed makes him look like a 20/20 type player which is invaluable on the infield. Obviously it was a shortened year, though, so we need to look to earlier years as well.

Since 2010, this is the list of infielders to put up 20 HR and 20 SB in a single season: José Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story), Manny Machado, Javier Baez, Paul Goldschmidt, Ian Kinsler, Todd Frazier , Ian Desmond, José Altuve, Jonathan Villar , Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, Jean Segura, Elvis Andrus, Tim Anderson, and Dustin Pedroia. At first glance, this may seem like a lot. But ultimately it’s only 17 over the past decade. Were it not for a shortened season, Profar may have joined them.

I have already made my comments on Bradley Jr. known. I want him back. But that is with the condition of a relatively team-friendly deal. If his market is large this winter, I’m fine letting him walk. Personally? I’m offering him a qualifying offer. If he accepts, it’s one more year of Bradley. If he goes into free agency thinking he can get more (don’t think he can), then I’m fine taking a pick back. The Red Sox can throw around money this year, there’s no reason not to do it when we need defense in the outfield, and we have an option right in front of us while we try to bridge the gap to Jarren Duran.

Phantom255x’s Shuffle

What they said: Kevin Gausman or Taijuan Walker make sense out of the rotation. Liam Hendriks, Alex Colome, or Kirby Yates are good bullpen options. Jackie Bradley Jr, Kevin Pillar, and Tommy La Stella all would check boxes as a position player signing.

A lot of the names Phantom listed were also on Bosox’s list, so I’ll avoid double dipping. I feel roughly the same about Hendriks and Yates as I do about Colomé, for better or worse. Hendriks has been elite the last two seasons, and Yates was similarly effective in two of the last three seasons. While Colomé has been more consistent over a longer period, there’s no question the other two names on offer here have a higher ceiling of excellence they can attain. Your mileage may vary.

Division Series - Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Pillar checks the same boxes for me as Bradley does. Ideally, I’d offer JBJ a QO, and he’d decide to test free agency and go elsewhere, then we’d snap up a player like Pillar on a cheap deal to be the bridge to Duran.

I’m not really sure how I feel about Gausman. For many years he was one of the best examples of prospect hype without production. Then finally, upon going to Atlanta, he turned a corner... until he didn’t. He then bounced to the Reds and Giants, with above-average results. My fear is signing him then having him revert to being a pumpkin. That said, his peripherals don’t exactly make things look like a fluke. He’s keeping his walk numbers low, his strikeout numbers high, and just generally succeeding where he otherwise failed in the past. As a lottery ticket option, I like it, but I think it’s likely he gets more than I’d be willing to pay.

What else was happening in the FanPost section this week?

Needs for 2021 - Jack Hunden : Jack lists his wishlist for the 2020 off-season. On the list? Retain J.D. Martinez. Bring in Bauer. But do you bring in a certain colorful character with Bauer?

Our Next Ideal Manager - Bosoxsince89 : Bosox pulled double duty this week. This very detailed look at what’s on the managerial hire pile will at the least educate you on who will be available. Keep in mind, this is a list of who Bosox considers his ideal hires, and is not a comprehensive list of everybody available.

Darkhorse Prospects - schiacchia : While they admit personal bias may play a factor, this poster lists several prospects they feel are potentially being overlooked. Some of them are potential top prospects in their own right, but haven’t had enough time in system to make any impact yet.

See you all for the next Flyby!