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OTM Mailbag 1/17: Is it really selling low?

We look at the Andrew Benintendi rumors along with some pitching fits and why teams would and wouldn’t sign in Boston.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Welcome back for another edition of the OTM Mailbag. It was a relatively busy week for Red Sox news, at least in comparison to the rest of the offseason. Questions came in before the Martín Pérez news broke, so keep an eye out later in the week for more on that. But today there is a lot about the Andrew Benintendi rumors as well as the outfield as a home and a question without an answer.

Kenneth on Twitter asks:

Why are we selling low on Benintendi?

This is, I think, a question that a lot of Red Sox fans have amid the rumors that have been swirling for a week now regarding a potential trade of Andrew Benintendi. It’s not an unfair inquiry, either, as Benintendi is coming off a terrible, terrible 2020. But for anyone concerned about selling low based on the 2020 performance, I wouldn’t worry about that. The Red Sox aren’t going to entertain any deals that look at Benintendi as though 2020 was close to the true talent level. I would imagine pretty much every team is willing to look past a 14-game sample, which is all the year was for him. For as bad as he looked, teams just aren’t going to put stock into a 14-game sample. Remember, Rafael Devers was even worse at the plate through 14 games than Benintendi. Devers is a better hitter, but the point is 14 games is not a representative sample.

Now, that still doesn’t totally alleviate the concern about selling low, because Benintendi was not that great in 2019 either, and just generally his value would certainly be higher with even a modest bounce back this summer. That’s not really a sure thing, though, and remember that selling low implies there needs to be a boost of value at some point after the deal. This point has been beaten into the ground, but from midway through 2018 all the way through the 2019 season, Benintendi was a mostly average hitter. And that came after a mostly average 2017. Throw in the fact that center field is no longer a viable position for more than a pinch and there’s plenty of reason to believe the player he is today is just the player he is.

None of that is to say they have to go out and give him away right now. They don’t, and they shouldn’t. Benintendi still has the raw talent in his offensive game to improve, it’s just a matter of getting that out. But he is also just not the type of player where you hang up the phone as soon as his name is mentioned. It makes sense to see if you can get some pitching help or help elsewhere and then turn to the free agent market (or trade market with Kris Bryant) to fill in left field. So to answer the original question: They may sell low because, well, they don’t think it’s actually selling low.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

nc2knt via email asks:

Can Benintendi be send to Triple-A this year? If so, I think that would make some sense, assuming he struggles in spring training. Both he and Michael Chavis at Triple-A can try to show they can be more consistent at the plate and then can be brought back up if need be.

Technically speaking Benintendi can be optioned down to Triple-A this season, and in a vacuum the idea here is not crazy. Obviously he is coming off a brutal injury-shortened season, and if he does struggle in camp then getting him back on track at Triple-A would seemingly be worth a shot. I have a very hard time seeing it happen, though. For one thing, fairly or not fairly Benintendi has been around long enough that there are clubhouse and personality issues to consider when sending a player like him to the minors. That’s not to say Benintendi definitely wouldn’t take it well, but that’s a real risk and it needs to be kept in mind for these situations. You’d be sending him down to get him back up to help at some point, so you want to make sure you’re actually helping my sending him down.

There’s also just simple roster mechanics. This would make sense if the Red Sox had enough outfield depth to make it work, but they really don’t. If you did send Benintendi (and Chavis) down to start the year, then you’re left with maybe a center field addition alongside Hunter Renfroe in left and Alex Verdugo in right on an everyday basis, with maybe Yairo Muñoz or Marcus Wilson as the fourth outfielder, along with J.D. Martinez. That’s just not good enough, and you’d rather give Benintendi the chance to prove himself in the majors. If they were to bring in another corner outfielder I could see it, but I can’t see them spending to bring in two more outfielders with Benintendi still on the roster when they have so many other holes to fill around the diamond as well.

The Chavis part does make sense, though. And in fact, as I’ve said before I think Chavis will start the year at Triple-A if everyone makes it through camp healthy. They have the infield depth to make that happen much more easily than outfield depth.

The Big Man on Twitter asks:

Why do you guys not like Bauer so much?

I will only speak for myself here, but there’s a few reasons why I haven’t really been keen on the Red Sox going after Bauer even though he is the top starter on the market. There is certainly some personality stuff here, largely to do with the way that he handles himself on social media that I personally do not really like. But I don’t even think you have to go there in order to make the case against him. Really, it’s about the cost versus what he’s proven in the majors.

It’s not really clear what kind of contract he’s going for this winter — he’s talked in the past about signing expensive one-year deals, but I still don’t really buy that happening — but it’s not going to be cheap. And for a Red Sox team that is dealing with a budget, self-inflicted or otherwise, and with so many holes, to spend the percentage of the budget space — to say nothing of the draft pick compensation as well — on one player, I’d want a bonafide star. And although Bauer did win the Cy Young last year, I don’t see him in that light. He has had two phenomenal seasons (2018 and 2020), but then otherwise has been mostly average over his career. And when you throw in that this past season he regularly faced some of the worst competition in the league, there’s just too much doubt for me to make that big of a commitment.

Sox Junkie on Twitter asks:

Am I the only one that would prefer Taijuan Walker over Odorizzi or Tanaka? Seemingly recovered nicely from Tommy John, younger than the other options and has similar numbers as far as I can tell. Would love him on a 4-year deal, but would love to hear why I’m wrong. More expensive?

Well, to answer the first question, no. Whenever you have a question that’s start with “Am I the only one” the answer is almost always no. But to address the question more specifically, I don’t think I’m quite there but it’s not ridiculous. Walker is indeed younger, but my issue is that he hasn’t proven himself to be as consistent. Odorizzi and Tanaka have both proven themselves to be viable starters over the last half-decade. Walker just pitched more than outing for the first time in a few years, and while the results were good some of the peripherals were less encouraging. Walker certainly wouldn’t cost a four-year deal, and I don’t think there’s a huge gap between him and the other two, but I’d probably order my preference Odorizzi, Tanaka, Walker. That said, I wouldn’t complain too much if they went with Walker over the other two.

GOAT91 in the comments asks:

I know he’s technically still a prospect, but we’ve seen Tanner Houck make his major league debut, and my assumption is that he’ll spend a majority (if not all) of next season in Boston. What other pitching prospects can we expect to make some noise in 2021? Which pitching prospect are you personally most excited to see? Any guess as to which one might be next to crack the active roster?

I would start by saying I wouldn’t assume Houck is in the Opening Day rotation, especially if they add another pitcher. But to answer the broader question, I think Bryan Mata and Connor Seabold are certainly the top two. Both should hopefully be ready for a call up around midseason if need be, and if I had to guess I’d assume Seabold will be ready first. That’s probably it for starting pitchers who are almost definitely going to be called up at some point. Guys like Thad Ward and maybe even Jay Groome could potentially get the call if things go well.

In the bullpen, Eduard Bazardo should probably get a chance this year after being added to the 40-man. I also wouldn’t sleep on Durbin Feltman. Last summer was supposed to be a huge one for him, and with the lack of baseball he seems to have been forgotten. But I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he pitches his way into a call up. I’ve also been a big Joan Martinez guy and he should be in Double-A to start the year. I wouldn’t necessarily bet on him getting a call up, but if you’re looking for a deep sleeper he’d be my guy.

Philadelphia Phillies v Boston Red Sox Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Stefan asks via email:

Of late, supposedly Red Sox targets chose better prospects of winning and better weather - and maybe more money - (i.e. Padres/Rangers) over Boston. I really wonder what kind of sales pitch the Red Sox Front Office shows to prospective players these days?.This makes me ask: What are the current top 3 reasons why a player should sign with the Red Sox and what are the 3 biggest reasons not to sign with the Red Sox?

Why they would sign:

  1. Money
  2. Recent success/prestige
  3. Fans

Why they wouldn’t sign:

  1. Near-future contention
  2. Location
  3. Media scrutiny

SoxFan839 in the comments asks:

Brian O’Halloran said during the deadline deals that the Players to be Named Later for Pillar and Osich were already agreed upon, and the offices couldn’t announce them right away because of the odd COVID rules last year. Wallace was announced back in September, but we’ve heard nothing about who the Cubs will be sending to Boston. Do you have any insight into that? They technically still have time to announce, but if the player was chosen, why the delay?

I’ve gotten a few versions of this question so I’m just putting this in here to say I have no idea what the delay is either. I would have thought it may have had something to do with the Rule 5 Draft, but that’s come and gone a while ago now and still nothing has happened here. Teams have six months to complete a deal so it should be coming within the next month or so at this point.

Thanks again for all of your questions. And again, if I didn’t get to yours look out for it in a future edition of the mailbag or on the podcast. We always appreciate more questions, so please if you have any you can either ask me on Twitter @OverTheMonster, you can leave a comment on our Facebook page, you can drop a comment down below on this post, or you can send it via email to