Most of the buzz since the Boston Red Sox’s season ended has centered around J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, the former of whom decided this week not to opt out of his contract and the latter of whom has been the subject of trade speculation thanks to his impending free agency next winter.
Understandably so, Martinez and Betts are two of the Red Sox’s best players — and two of the best players in Major League Baseball, for that matter — and their presence, or lack thereof, on Boston’s roster could go a long way toward determining the team’s success in 2020 and beyond.
That said, the Red Sox have other notable players whose paths could lead them elsewhere in the coming months. So, let’s focus on two in particular: Rick Porcello and Brock Holt, both of whom are free agents after relatively successful stints with Boston.
Porcello, who turns 31 next month, is coming off a disappointing 2019 season in which he went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA, a 4.76 FIP, a 1.39 WHIP and 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings across 32 starts spanning 174 1/3 frames. He’s three years removed from winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2016, which seems like an aberration in hindsight, but he played an important role in Boston’s 2018 World Series win and proved to be a dependable starter for much of his five-year run with the Red Sox. He’s a solid buy-low candidate for a team in need of rotation depth, and perhaps we shouldn’t rule out a reunion with the Red Sox based on their need for a low-cost fifth starter behind the quartet of Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi.
Holt, 31, has endeared himself to Red Sox fans since 2013 with a hard-nosed style of play that’s very much in the Dustin Pedroia mold. He’s also been an extremely useful utility player, capable of playing all around the diamond, and had a strong showing in 2019, batting .297 with three home runs, 31 RBIs and a .771 OPS in 295 plate appearances across 87 games. While Holt probably is best served in a backup role, playing three or four times per week at multiple positions, one could make the case for him landing a full-time job should he leave Boston.
So, what are reasonable contracts for Porcello and Holt? FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes and The Athletic’s Jim Bowden all released free agent rankings this week that shed light on what each player’s market might look like.
Here’s a breakdown, complete with projected contracts and potential suitors.
FanGraphs free agent ranking: No. 31
FanGraphs projected contract: Two years, $18 million ($9 million AAV)
Median crowdsource, per FanGraphs: Three years, $36 million ($12 million AAV)
Average crowdsource, per FanGraphs: 2.47 years, $29 million ($11.7 million AAV)
MLB Trade Rumors free agent ranking: No. 31
MLB Trade Rumors prediction: One-year, $11 million contract with the Giants
The Athletic free agent ranking: No. 24
The Athletic projected contract: One year, $9 million ($9 million AAV)
The Athletic best fits: Pirates, Blue Jays, Brewers, Twins
FanGraphs free agent ranking: No. 33
FanGraphs projected contract: Two years, $15 million ($7.5 million AAV)
Median crowdsource, per FanGraphs: Two years, $8 million ($4 million AAV)
Average crowdsource, per FanGraphs: 1.65 years, $7.4 million ($4.5 million AAV)
MLB Trade Rumors free agent ranking: No. 41
MLB Trade Rumors prediction: Two-year, $8 million contract with the Diamondbacks
The Athletic free agent ranking: Not included in top 35
The Athletic projected contract: N/A
The Athletic best fits: N/A
Clearly, Porcello and Holt are difficult free agents to pin down given the various highs and lows of their respective major league careers. But it’ll be interesting to see where they wind up if the Red Sox ultimately decide against bringing them back amid the organization’s stated effort to trim its payroll to beneath the $208 million luxury tax threshold this offseason. Both have the potential to make an impact on baseball’s biggest stage even though neither necessarily is regarded among the biggest fish in the free agency waters.