It’s entirely possible Bradley re-signs with Boston after testing the open market for the first time in his Major League Baseball career. Just as it’s possible the Red Sox make a low-cost acquisition to fill the hole.
But what if the Red Sox have something bigger in mind — like, say, George Springer?
ESPN’s David Schoenfield earlier this week listed Boston among his best free agency fits for Springer, a three-time All-Star entering his age-31 campaign after seven seasons with the Houston Astros.
Here’s Schoenfield’s reasoning:
While there is a need here, Springer is hardly enough to fix the Red Sox by himself, and it seems like they still want to work on building depth and improving the farm system before committing to a payroll that would soar over the luxury tax. Then again, given Andrew Benintendi’s so-so 2019 performance and lost 2020 season (.103 in 54 plate appearances), Alex Verdugo is the team’s only reliable outfielder right now and there are no impact outfield bats in the upper levels of the minors.
Of course, never discount a big-market franchise like the Red Sox from making a big-ticket splash somewhere in free agency, and with Alex Cora back as manager, perhaps that increases the odds that Springer would want to play there. The two were close when Cora was the bench coach with Houston in 2017. The whole “he’s from that area so that means he wants to play there” is usually overblown, but Springer’s parents do still live in Connecticut and Fenway Park is just 90 minutes from New Britain.
Springer is the top outfielder available in free agency this offseason. And he might be the best player available, in general, depending on how you feel about pitcher Trevor Bauer and catcher J.T. Realmuto.
As such, signing Springer would require a significant investment, with ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel projecting a four-year, $108 million contract and MLB Trade Rumors predicting a five-year, $125 million deal.
The Red Sox have financial flexibility in wake of resetting the luxury tax in 2020, but their most glaring issues reside on the pitching side. So, it’s possible they’ll focus much of their offseason attention on the mound.
And even then, there’s no guarantee Boston will spend lavishly this winter after a last-place finish in the American League East.