Mets sign Albert Almora
We start today with what isn’t really big news, but a move that could have some relatively large ramifications on the rest of the Red Sox offseason. That is with the Mets signing who has been a fourth outfielder in Albert Almora. New York gave him a one-year deal, though the exact terms of the contract are not yet known.
Before we get into the Red Sox part of all this, the Mets were certainly in need of a center fielder. This has seemingly been an issue for them for a couple years now, and they were connected to both George Springer and Jackie Bradley Jr. at various points through the winter. They obviously missed out on Springer, who went to the Blue Jays, but Bradley seemed like the more likely acquisition after they had traded for Francisco Lindor.
With Almora, they don’t need another center fielder, though we’ll get to not shutting the door on that in a minute. Almora himself is not really an everyday player, having been below replacement level in each of the last two seasons. That said, he can play a bit against lefties with Brandon Nimmo playing center the other days, with Almora also available to come in for defense late in games. It’s not an ideal setup, but it’s one they can make work.
The effect on the Red Sox here is fairly straight forward. Boston has also been tentatively connected to Bradley all winter, but it’s been unclear if his market would come down to a level that would be palatable to his former club. If the Mets are out, the market becomes much less clear, though not totally barren. The Astros and Giants are the main teams to look for if the Mets are not there. That said, Julian McWilliams reported the Mets are still not out, which isn’t crazy because as I said Almora isn’t really an everyday player. It makes it easier to move on from Bradley for New York, but it doesn’t necessitate it.
But then there’s the other part of this, which is that the non-Bradley options just took a hit as well. As I’ve said in the past I wouldn’t have really felt it was worth it to use a major-league roster spot on Almora, but if Boston wants an outfielder and it misses out on Bradley, there were only so many other options. With Almora off the board, it’s really down to Kevin Pillar or Jake Marisnick in the non-Bradley division, at least on the free agent market.
Athletics and Rangers make a trade
This one is from earlier in the weekend and it doesn’t really have an effect on the Red Sox, but it is a very interesting deal. Division rivals out west have swapped a pair of players who have spent a long time with their former club, with Elvis Andrus going to Oakland while Khris Davis goes to Texas. The Rangers also get prospects Jonah Heim and Dane Acker while the Athletics were getting prospect Aramis Garcia.
Both players have fairly significant salaries for the next two seasons, to make the trade even more fascinating. From the Athletics perspective, they needed a replacement for Marcus Semien, who signed with the Blue Jays this winter. They missed out on all of the free agent shortstops, and now turn to a veteran who can still play some defense but has been at least 24 percent worse than average at the plate in each of the last three seasons. Davis, meanwhile, provides some right-handed power for Texas, though he’s also been trending in the wrong direction. Neither player are who they were in their prime, but you still rarely see this kind of trade between division rivals swapping players so connected to the respective organizations.