Will the Red Sox make a splash this offseason? Boston has financial flexibility and a strong desire to bounce back from a disappointing 2020. As such, we’ll examine whether several notable free agents make sense (or don’t make sense) as the club looks to retool for 2021 and beyond.
Not since 2018, when they landed J.D. Martinez, have the Red Sox made a major splash in free agency. And, if you consider Martinez’s deal a market-driven discount, you’d have to go back to David Price’s megadeal in 2015 to find the last time Boston really extended itself for a free agent.
So, the Red Sox are due. So, too, is chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, whose done his job in reducing payroll and restocking the farm system but has yet to make his mark in free agency.
Is Trevor Bauer the man for whom the Red Sox will return to their big-spending ways? He just might be.
After a few so-so seasons to start his career, the third overall pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft has ascended in recent years to elite status. Bauer’s career reached new heights in 2020 when he dazzled his way toward the National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
There are plenty of reasons for why the pitching-starved Red Sox should have interest in Bauer. However, there are plenty of arguments to be made for Boston passing on “Bauer Outage.”
Let’s dive in:
Position: Starting pitcher
Age: 29 (Jan. 17, 1991)
Weight: 205 pounds
11 games (11 starts)
5-4 record, 1.73 ERA, 100 strikeouts
0.795 WHIP, 2.88 FIP, 12.3 K/9,
205 games (195 starts)
75-64 record, 3.90 ERA, 1,279 strikeouts
1.265 WHIP, 3.85 FIP, 9.7 K/9
Why Bauer makes sense for Red Sox:
Even if Eduardo Rodriguez regains his 2019 form and Chris Sale, by midseason, returns to game action, the Red Sox need help in the rotation. They just do. Plus, it’s fair to wonder whether Sale ever again will resemble an ace of a staff. And debate prospects on your own time.
So, Boston needs star power in the rotation. Bauer more than fits the bill, and his oddball personality suggests he actually could thrive in a place like Boston. He might be a total weirdo that doesn’t get nervous in big situations.
Arguments against the Red Sox signing a $25 million-per-year player start with the luxury tax. Boston has roughly $50 million to play with this winter before hitting the $210 tax threshold. That money can disappear fast, especially when you’re a team like the Red Sox, who have a ton of holes to fill. Plus, Bauer rejected the Reds’ qualifying offer, meaning Boston also would have to part with a second-round draft pick and international signing money to add him.
But, at some point, the Red Sox need to take a swing. Modeling your roster after the Tampa Bay Rays can be an effective strategy, but you need stars if you want sustained, championship-level success. Sure, you can develop some, but some also need to be found in free agency.
Why Bauer doesn’t make sense for Red Sox:
We just told you why disregarding both the luxury tax and the financial ramifications of signing a player like Bauer is worth considering. The Red Sox might think differently, and they might be right to.
As good as Bauer is, he’s not Pedro Martinez or something. He’s an ace, but not yet a Hall-of-Fame-caliber pitcher. The Red Sox would be justified in saving their money for someone else, or spreading it around to balance out the roster.
Additionally, Bauer is a wild card. Sorry, but we still hold that drone fiasco against him, to some extent.
Prediction: Bauer ultimately signs a five-year, roughly $140-150 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.