C.J. Nitkowski believes the Boston Red Sox shouldn’t fear stepping back in order to leap forward.
The former Major League Baseball pitcher proposed an idea he calls a “smart play” for the Red Sox in the 2020 season Wednesday during his appearance on Sirius XM MLB Radio. Nitkowski foresees the Red Sox struggling this season due to questions over the quality of its starting rotation and he believes Boston should be patient with its current crop of youngsters, yet pursue other prospects aggressively. Doing so would help Red Sox brass reconstruct the team’s roster into one capable of contending for the playoffs and perhaps World Series in future seasons.
“It could turn into an ugly season potentially for Boston, and they may not be a postseason team,” Nitkowski said. “I don’t think they necessarily are right now. So if that’s the case, what’s the smart play?
“Get your hands on some players, if you can, that you think can help you. There’s an opportunity, obviously the dialogue had been opened with the Padres. And so perhaps a guy like (Cal) Quantrill, who you like, some of these other guys potentially.
“There could be opportunities this year for the Red Sox to be patient this year, especially pitchers, at the big-league level.”
2020 Red Sox Rotation:
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 19, 2020
The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee reported Tuesday the Red Sox and Padres are in talks over a trade that would send outfielder Wil Myers and prospects to Boston. Acee didn’t name any of the prospects in his report, and Nitkowski is perhaps the first MLB analyst to have linked Quantrill to Boston. Quantrill was 6-8 with a 5.16 ERA in 23 appearances (18 starts) last season.
Nitkowski’s suggestion of a potentially down season for the Red Sox follows the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong and Jeter Downs.
Baseball Prospectus last week projected the Red Sox to win 85 games this season and gave them a 28.5 percent chance of returning to the MLB playoffs. If Boston meets that wins projection, and its young players develop toward stardom, that leap might come sooner than many, especially Nitkowski, expect.