Four Big-Money Free Agent Targets For The Boston Red Sox
Let me preface this article by saying it is highly unlikely Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom chases any of these players in free agency. Bloom is focused on a multi-year rebuild plan for the Sox. I, on the other hand, have no issue spending other people's money and only care about watching a winning team ASAP.
Here are four hot stove splashes that could bring the Sox all the closer to contending in 2021.
Trevor Bauer, P, 29 – turns 30 years old in JAN
2020 stats: (5-4/1.73/100)
Over the last three seasons (plus this little mini thing we just had) Trevor Bauer has quietly developed into one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball. He may well be the NL Cy Young for his efforts in 2020, and that’s no fluke, having posted a 17-win season in 2017 and a 2.21 era in 2018.
Some call him a basket case, I prefer to use the word eccentric when explaining Bauer. He’s gone on record every time the game’s ridiculous unwritten rules pop up to ruthlessly blast them and say players should feel free to express themselves and play the game with flair, making it a better product for the fans. That kind of attitude would be a welcome addition to the Vanilla Sox, who lack any sort of personality.
Up until this off-season, Bauer had always said he would only sign 1-year contracts for the remainder of his career. While his agent recently walked back those comments and said the 29-year-old isn’t committed to the idea, he’s certainly open to it.
Bring him to Boston on a 1-year deal in the ballpark of $22mil. This would be your one flashy move of the off-season, but a rotation potentially comprised of Bauer, Sale, E-Rod, Eovaldi and Tanner Houck/Nick Pivetta or whoever you want to insert in the 5-spot would instantly make the Sox a contender in 2021.
George Springer, OF, 31 years old
2020 stats: (.265/14/32, 50 games)
It’s time to bring this New Englander back home. Springer, who was born in New Britain, CT, and attended Avon Farms prep school in CT before playing collegiately at UCONN, was on a 45 homer clip this season. That came on the heels of a .292/39/96 line in just 122 games in 2019.
Springer averages 35 homers and 93 rbi per 162 games for his career, and brings that power at the top of the order, where the Houston Astros largely used him as their lead-off hitter. The issue here is that you would need to forfeit a 2nd round pick likely to bring Springer to town, as that’s the business of signing a player of his caliber to a deal north of $50-million in MLB.
So unless you somehow convince Springer to take a 1-year deal as well, a sacrifice will need to be made, but I think it’s worth it. Look at the Red Sox outfield currently. It’s non-existent. Literally, Alex Verdugo is the only guy out there. There is no reason to have any sort of confidence in Andrew Benintendi, who played 2-weeks this season and hit .100. After those two, you have J.D. Martinez, your DH, and someone named Marcus Wilson, who has played 12 career games at A-ball. That’s it on the active roster.
I can’t imagine Chaim Bloom making this kind of move, but I wouldn’t hesitate to bring Springer in on a 2-3 year contract in the neighborhood of $20mil per season.
Marcel Ozuna, OF, turns 30 years old a week from tomorrow
2020 stats: (.338/18/56)
How this guy isn’t one of the finalists for NL MVP confounds me. Remember what he did when he visited Fenway this season? You probably don’t, because the Sox season was long over at that point and the vast majority of fans had tuned out, but he became the first NL player to hit 3-homers in a game in Boston since the Braves played in the city in the 1940’s. This guy doesn’t just have pop, he’s built like the second coming of Jim Rice, and during his short stint at Fenway this past summer, he was sending balls to places in the park that hadn’t been reached since Jim Ed dug into that right-hand batter’s box.
Ozuna was playing on a 1-year/$18mil deal last season prior to the COVID-prorated adjustments. He’s not the most nimble fielder in the world and would likely be best-suited as a DH in the AL. But you can hide he or J.D. in left field any given night at Fenway.
My initial offer would be 3yr/$75mil, but I’d be willing to give a 4th to put his bat in the middle of Boston’s lineup.
D.J. LeMahieu, 2B, 32 years old
2020 stats: (.364/10/27)
This dude is one of the most underrated hitters in the game. He was solid-to-above average during his seven years in Colorado, which included an NL-best .348 average in 2016 and three seasons with an average north of .300. He then developed his power swing in 2018, establishing a new career high of 15 home runs. That number jumped to 26 his first year in the Bronx, when he slashed .327/26/102 and finished 4th in the AL MVP voting. He’s a finalist for this year’s award as well. The Yankees were able to snatch him up on a 2yr/$24mil contract two years ago and it’s going to take a lot more to get his services this time around.
At age 32, he’s looking for that one final sizeable contract of his career, which diminishes the likelihood of bringing him to Boston.
I wouldn’t go more than 3-years with the offer, but I would up the annual average to around $20-$22mil per season in order to entice him. Another top of the order bat would fill a need for Boston, and more importantly, the Sox need a 2nd baseman. There’s not many better options at the position than LeMahieu.