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The Flyby: One Year From Now

A year ago, if you told me the Red Sox would look like this, I’m not sure I’d have believed you.

Alex Cora Boston Red Sox Manager Press Conference Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

A lot has changed for the Red Sox over the past year. The biggest change has certainly been the loss of Mookie Betts, but it’s far deeper than just the loss of their most talented player. It sometimes feel like a complete shift in organizational priorities happened right under our noses, and that makes getting a firm footing on the future of the franchise a little tougher than in a typical year.

Usually, you can count on the Red Sox to do what it takes to win, either in the upcoming year, or to set the stage for a winning year in a year or two. But 2020 was a lost year, full stop. There was no winning, and it didn’t feel like any grand plan for the next top level team was underway. A bridge year would indicate that success was to come, so I don’t feel comfortable labeling 2020 a bridge year. Rather, it felt like the winds of change were blowing. 2021 may be a better year, but it doesn’t feel like 2021 is the goal either. It feels like any success in 2021 may be incidental rather than intentional.

So what will 2021 bring? We asked you, and here’s what you said.

One Year From Now - Soxfan893

What they said: Red Sox fans will be much happier, provided we keep expectations reasonable. They won’t finish in last. There will be a couple big signings, and a big trade, although the trade won’t be so much what we get, as what we move. Andrew Friedman will be the mold that Chaim Bloom fits himself into. J.D. Martinez will be traded, and fans will be upset.

I agree with most of the above. I feel like this year will be a quiet and unspectacular year. But I also think it’s likely that ownership and Bloom himself believe that to be a necessity, with spending league-wide on the downswing.

With seemingly no desire to be the high man on anyone, the Red Sox will likely miss out on the big gets of the offseason, and whatever premier talent they do snag will likely be in the bullpen or in the back end of the rotation.

What I want to talk about is a theoretical J.D. Martinez trade. While I won’t be upset when he is dealt, I do have an attachment to him as my favorite position player on the Red Sox at this time (although Alex Verdugo is making a good case for it to be him). Anyone expecting a big get for him is straight dreaming however.

He has two years (one guaranteed, and an option 2022) remaining on his contract at a fairly high price relative to the market being set right now. He is also coming off a career-worst season that has cast doubts as to what he will be going forward. After two phenomenal years in Boston, is Martinez cooked? If he rebounds, what will his trade value be?

First and foremost, he is a designated hitter. Nobody is trading for him to be anything else. It does not matter that he wants to play the field, his defense will prevent that from being a factor in trade negotiations. As a DH, he needs to be locked in and hitting to be worth anything. As he only has his bat on which to rely, a relatively expensive contract, and a spot on a team that is not set up to win in 2021, the leverage will be set squarely against the Red Sox and it is dubious to suggest they will acquire anything of merit for Martinez. The quantity over quality approach may be the best case for the Red Sox in a Martinez deal, as lottery tickets already appear to be the best case scenario for him. I may prefer we just keep him in this case, as the Sox could be competitive in 2022, and he would be more valuable to the 2022 Red Sox than he would be in a trade.

A Year from Now - GOAT91

What they said: After coming off a 4th place finish in the AL East, the Red Sox become heavy betting favorites to win the services of Kris Bryant. Rafael Devers has become the new starting DH. J.D. Martinez has been traded to the Angels for Jordyn Adams. The Red Sox will continue their retooling of the farm, as in addition to Adams, Bryan Mata, Jeter Downs, and Triston Casas, they will acquire two more top 100 prospects. One will come from the draft, and the second will come from when Bloom trades Nathan Eovaldi and Bobby Dalbec to the White Sox in a deal involving Andrew Vaughn. Michael Chavis ends up in Pittsburgh. The pitching is still a mess, but Corey Kluber was a nice breath of air. Lots left to do.

I love what GOAT91 did for the prompt, and recommend the read. Rather than rehash what’s spoken about inside the article, since again you should read it, I want to take a minute to talk about Kris Bryant and where he may or may not fit on the Boston Red Sox.

Kris Bryant of course is a former top prospect, and a formerly elite player who has won an MVP. Since his 2016 MVP season, however, Bryant has regressed a bit, hitting .278/.383/.498 since. He is still a great player who would improve a lot of teams, but his 2020 being as poor as it was could really hurt his value to a lot of people.

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

That said, he has a year to improve his value back to a high level before hitting free agency. I am not a betting man, nor am I implying that anyone else should be, but I get the feeling Bryant will do just that. Looking at his batted ball stats, he’s still putting the barrel on the ball enough, and he is making hard enough contact when he doesn’t that he should be getting more base hits to fall. So what is causing the issue? Is it his right handed pull-hitting that is getting in the way?

If so, the solution to his woes may be pretty easy to solve. He can either alter his stance so he hits more the other way, or, failing that he can come to Fenway Park and take a few hacks at the Green Monster in LF. I’m no expert when it comes to hitting, but it is far easier to hit a ball 300 feet than it is to hit a ball 350 feet. And with the unique dimensions Fenway has to offer in left field, he won’t even have to hit it 300 feet to throw a fielder into fits with the geometry that defenders will have to navigate.

Bryant being able to play first base, third base, and the two corner outfield positions makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox as well going forward, as they will have numerous options to play with. They’ll be able to move Rafael Devers around as needed (whether to first base or DH), or push one of their other outfielders into center field, finally giving the Red Sox three reliable outfielders with Jarren Duran knocking on the door himself.

If there’s one flaw, it’s that Bryant is expensive, and the Red Sox have seemingly been trying to avoid spending money.

Few other fun FanPosts on the site:

Marcus Semien and What Needs to Be - schiacchia : The Red Sox need a second baseman, and Semien needs a job. Could this be a match made in heaven? One FanPoster believes so.

Take Advantage - Soxfan893 : After having seen the Padres take Yu Darvish from the Cubs, one FanPoster sees a few roads to opportunity. It would be great for the Red Sox to take advantage of everyone selling to load up the team now. Preaching to the choir, my friend.

The CBT and What It Means to the 2021 Red Sox - GOAT91 : A longform piece that dives into the benefits of going beyond the 2021 CBT thresholds, and finding the best way to be competitive without destroying long-term ability to succeed competitively and financially.