The Red Sox’s outfield appears full with Opening Day one month away.
But that didn’t stop Jim Bowden, a former Major League Baseball general manager, from including Boston on his list of teams that should consider signing free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig.
Bowden ranked the Red Sox as the seventh-best fit for Puig in his piece published Thursday on The Athletic.
Here’s why he sees Boston as a potential suitor:
The Red Sox are expected to have an all left-handed-hitting starting outfield after the trade of Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, with Alex Verdugo and Andrew Benintendi flanking Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. The Sox signed Kevin Pillar, who can play all three outfield positions, but with Verdugoâs back being such a question to start the year, Puig would be a good placeholder in right field, at least until Verdugo is ready. In addition, if Bradley doesnât start hitting, and Puig gets off to a hot start, the Red Sox could always put Puig and Verdugo in the corners with Benintendi in center field, then mix and match with Bradley.
This scenario seems like a long shot given the Red Sox’s current options. In addition to the names mentioned, J.D. Martinez figures to see some playing time in the outfield despite serving as Boston’s designated hitter on most days. Puig would be a luxury signing more than anything, and it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox making such an expenditure, largely because they prioritized getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold and still have holes in their pitching staff.
That said, it’s interesting to see Bowden even include the Red Sox on his list. He makes a valid point about Boston’s outfield being left-handed heavy, and it’s quite possible Puig will be available at a below-market rate given how his free agency has played out.
Maybe Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will get weird during spring training? Yeah, probably not.
Puig, who spent his first six seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is coming off a 2019 in which he hit .267 with 24 home runs, 84 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and a .785 OPS in 149 games split between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. The 29-year-old is a very polarizing player given some of his antics, but he’s relatively productive and it’s somewhat surprising he hasn’t found a new home in free agency yet.
Bowden listed the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox as the three most logical destinations for Puig.