The Boston Red Sox have money to spend this offseason after resetting their luxury tax in 2020.
This pliability is enviable, especially if prices on the open market drop due to the inherent uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. But it hardly guarantees the Red Sox will flex their financial muscle in free agency, as Boston might be best served working in the margins, targeting low-cost trade acquisitions and building up the farm system in wake of a last-place finish in the American League East.
Still, this is the Red Sox we’re talking about. They’ll undoubtedly be linked to some of the biggest fish in the free agency pond. And The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, a former Major League Baseball general manager, already is throwing hypothetical hooks in the water.
Bowden predicted contracts for 25 of MLB’s top free agents in a piece published Tuesday. He also listed “best fits” for each player, presumably taking into account team needs, payroll situations, contender status, etc.
The Red Sox were mentioned among the “best fits” for a whopping 10(!) players, highlighting both the extent of Boston’s roster deficiencies after a disappointing 2020 campaign and the unpredictability surrounding the franchise as Chaim Bloom prepares to navigate his second year as chief baseball officer.
The 10 players (according to Bowden’s rank):
Trevor Bauer, SP (2)
George Springer, OF (3)
DJ LeMahieu, 1B/2B/3B (4)
Liam Hendriks, RP (8)
Marcus Stroman, SP (9)
Masahiro Tanaka, SP (10)
Brad Hand, RP (14)
Taijuan Walker, SP (19)
Kolten Wong, 2B (20)
Blake Treinen, RP (25)
This obviously is an extremely wide net, with the magnitude of Bowden’s contractual projections varying greatly. He believes Bauer could land a five-year, $135 million deal, for instance, while Wong might wind up with a one-year, $7 million payday. Much different expenditures, clearly.
The whole piece is worth a read — click here — but this more or less hammers home the point that Boston has questions to answer in the rotation, the bullpen, the outfield and at second base.
And while, again, the most logical long-term play might be to avoid spending lavishly in the coming months, there theoretically are a number of different ways the Red Sox could approach this offseason while trying to be more competitive in 2021 and beyond.