We are right in the midst of the holiday season, and in just a couple of weeks we will have turned the calendar from 2020 onto 2021, looking ahead to both a new year for all of us and a new season for the Red Sox. This is going to be the last Roundtable of 2020 since the next two Fridays are holidays. So I wanted to use that break as a jumping off point for the question. I asked the staff this week, “What do you expect the Red Sox to have gotten done by the time we do this again on January 8? And what do you think will be left on the table?” In the interest of full disclosure, as I’ve mentioned before I send out these questions on Monday. In this week’s case, I sent it out shortly before the Hunter Renfroe singing, so things have changed slightly for some of these answers.
I don’t feel like they will have done anything. My feeling is that the Red Sox top starting pitcher target is Tomoyuki Sugano and they are waiting to see what happens with him before moving in to another option.
I feel like league-wide, few things will have changed. One or two mid tier signings here and there, but none of the big names sign before January. If they do, they will sign with the Mets.
By January 8, I expect the Sox to have signed a starting pitcher and made their decision on Jackie Bradley Jr. Jake Odorizzi has been the starting pitcher most associated with the Red Sox, but MLB Trade Rumors projects a three-year, $39 million price tag for him. I likely wouldn’t want to commit to Odorizzi for three years, but would be thrilled if the Sox can nab him on a one or two-year deal for a similar average annual value, given the lack of interesting options on the free agent market. As for Bradley, I’m convinced that a reunion makes perfect sense. After the Hunter Renfroe signing, the Sox have enough bodies to fill out their outfield, but I find it hard to completely trust Renfroe or Andrew Benintendi. MLB Trade Rumors projects 2-years, $16 million for Bradley, and I think the Sox should jump at that kind of a deal.
I asked Santa for the Red Sox to re-sign Bradley, so I hope we see a reunion by the time we do our Roundtables again. But in all honesty, I doubt anything is done between now and then and we will still be waiting on movement on the free agent signing side.
By January 8 I honestly don’t expect the Red Sox to do much of anything. I do expect them to make some reasonably sized moves: Jake Odorizzi, Corey Kluber, something like that. But given the unknown state of the 2021 season I think any deal that could have a big impact is going to wait unit MLB knows when the season will start, how many games will be played, and if teams should count on some percentage of normal ticket revenue. Winters have been painfully slow for free agency and the trade market the last few years and if this were a normal winter I’d say Bloom and crew would want to make a few splashes to keep interest up and restore some hope in the team. I hate to be the downer, but I’m thinking it’ll be a quiet couple of weeks. But then a couple starters and a second baseman will show up. And it’ll be time to think about spring.
While I am very excited for the arrival of Hunter Renfroe, what I would like to see in the next couple of weeks is another outfielder added to the mix and at least 1 starting pitcher. As for what I expect to be completed, which was the prompt for this week, is nothing. Recent offseasons have been extremely slow for the Sox and this weird COVID offseason has been and is expected to be even slower. While I wish the Sox would jump at this opportunity, I don’t have the expectation they will and I think we will return here in January in the same place we’re leaving it.
Nothing. Baseball Twitter’s favorite anthropomorphic chicken made the point last week that only five teams have brought in a player that makes over $2 million. As of two days ago, only two teams have spent more than $30 million collectively. Baseball’s offseason is moving at a glacial pace and there’s no reason to expect this to end anytime soon. Unfortunately, we might be looking at another offseason where spring training arrives and many of the marquee free agents are still on the table. The Mets finally have the financial wherewithal to spend to their market since they’re not financing losses from a Ponzi scheme, the Phillies might’ve just found $40 million in between the cushions, and there’s the off chance the Padres upset the apple cart and back the truck up for someone, but other than that group I don’t feel safe projecting anyone to open their wallets. Fans of the team might view that as a positive because it provides an opportunity for the Sox to snag guys they otherwise wouldn’t be in on, which is a wild thing to type out.
I don’t expect anything big. The signing of Hunter Renfroe seems to have forged the current path, not unlike the first brave soul sledding down fresh snow; those that follow go faster and faster. By next year I expect another Renfroe in the outfield, maybe one for the infield, maybe one as a backup catcher, and another couple for the bullpen. Give us all the (spiritual) Hunters Renfroe.
At this point the winter’s baseball activities have shown to be moving at a snail’s pace. Sure the Red Sox already went out and, sort of, addressed the outfield with Hunter Renfroe. However, with each day that passes it makes me more skeptical that Jackie Bradley Jr. will re-sign with the team. Maybe Alex Verdugo in center field and Renfroe in right field is the bridge to Jarren Duran? It has been reported by multiple sources that the Red Sox have been active on the trio of Jake Odorizzi, Corey Kluber, and Tomoyuki Sugano. Perhaps the Red Sox will ink one of those players to a contract in the near future, if I had to guess it will be the one I’m least excited by—Odorizzi.
More likely than signing Bradley Jr. or perhaps even one of the aforementioned starters is that the Red Sox sign a reliever. It’s no secret, and Cora recently talked about this, that the Red Sox need another pitcher other than Matt Barnes who can handle the heart of the order. With so many back end relievers on the market maybe they go out and get one of those. Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic predicted a big January for baseball. In all likelihood she’s right and we will all need to be entertained by the holidays and our distant relatives on Zoom calls to get us through until then.