The Red Sox enter the winter fresh off the high of coming within two games of World Series, which obviously begs the question of what they’ll do to try and get over the top of the American League... but I don’t expect much to be done to that end, at least not so obviously as to bop me over the head, because that isn’t how this team rolls. I want big moves but I don’t presume them, because I presume a protracted process that culminates with a very good Sox team that doesn’t win it all.
Too harsh? Our Friday roundtable question for this week was whether or not the Red Sox should sign Kyle Schwarber at the 4 year/70 million dollar contract he’s expected to get, per MLB Trade Rumors. Spoiler alert: Whether they should or not, they won’t, because Schwarber was always about cost, and if he costs that much, he won’t be on the team, especially not with J.D, Martinez opting in to the final year of his deal at a hefty price tag,
But the truth is that it hardly matters what Martinez signed for when it comes to Schwarber; it’s all about bottom-line efficiency, and Schwarber’s open-market value is probably higher than Chaim Bloom is willing to pay because Bloom hasn’t shown much to indicate he’s all that into paying market rates for literally anyone on a multi-year deal. It’s all about the process, and the process says to put Schwarber in the past. I don’t disagree! He was a booty call, no more and no less. Everyone had fun, but the moment has passed.
If the Sox are not signing Schwarber, then, who are they signing? My answer is the same as if it was at the trade deadline, and, for what it’s worth, will be at the next trade deadline: Whoever’s cheapest. That’s just how Bloom rolls. That’s just how everybody in today’s baseball rolls, more or less, but don’t take my word for it—Scott Boras went on a rant about all of this earlier in the week, a rant that correctly identified the Braves’s World Series win as a direct result of the extreme thriftiness of two-thirds of the league. The Dodgers and Astros are obvious exceptions, of course, and all they’ve done is make every World Series for the last five years. It is… not a coincidence! Spending money that you have in bundles makes for good baseball teams. All the sabermetrics in the world can’t compete with that.
Spending money like that is probably not in Boston’s plans, even if it is in New York, where they’re likely to make a run at Carlos Correa. If it is, I’ll be happy to be wrong. I also suspect it’ll be for a pitcher on a short term deal, which means Max Scherzer… hello? Scherzer would be the one type of guy that could break Boston’s thrifty streak and dovetail with it, because he won’t command too many years at his age, is good beyond belief and the Sox can afford him without tying themselves in long-term knots.
But I don’t expect the to sigh Scherzer or Schwarber or anyone else whose name doesn’t start with Sch and end in r. Instead of any particularly large signing I see a slightly beefed up version of last year’s offseason, with the Martín Pérez dart throw type contracts a little larger across the board. Instead of $1 lottery tickets, Bloom will simply move to the $5 ones, and we’ll all cross our fingers once more.
Is this bad? Probably not. Will it make the Sox better? Almost certainly. Will it make them good enough to win it all? IMHO they already were, so it’ll just keep them there. But I find it unlikely this approach will make the Sox any type of favorites, except our favorite team, one that will find itself again looking up at the Yankees and Rays to start the season. We know how that ended up last time, so it’s not a death sentence. It’s just how they roll these days, and we will roll with ‘em.