New Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom entered during a difficult time for the Boston Red Sox, to say the least. Bloom is expected to manage Boston’s payroll in an attempt to drive it under the luxury tax, while still putting a team on the field that is consistent with Boston’s recent winning culture. Bloom, as the previous Senior Vice President of Operations for the Rays, knows a thing or two about making the most out of a team while dealing with a restricted payroll (Tampa Bay started the 2019 season with a payroll of only $52 million, but still clinched the second AL Wild Card spot.) With the Winter Meetings over, here’s a recap of Boston’s moves thus far and what Sox fans can expect moving forward this offseason.
Signings of Martin Perez and José Peraza
While the Yankees were busy signing Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking contract for a pitcher, the Sox added a bit of depth to the back of their rotation with the signing of LHP Martin Perez. Ken Rosenthal reported that Boston signed Perez to a 1-year, $6 million deal with an option for 2021. This signing aligned with one of Bloom’s main goals for this offseason: filling holes in the roster that don’t cost too much. While Perez had a disappointing 2019 season, posting a 5.12 ERA for Minnesota, Bloom hopes that he can be a cost-efficient replacement for Rick Porcello, who signed with the Mets on a 1-year, $10 million deal.
The other acquisition made by Boston was IF José Peraza to a 1-year, $3 million deal. While it seems fairly insignificant, this deal might turn out to be one of the biggest steals of the Winter Meetings. Since entering the league in 2015, Peraza has batted .273 with an OPS of .688, while collecting 154 RBIS and 77 stolen bases. These aren’t all-star numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but when you combine these numbers with his versatility of playing anywhere in the infield, and the fact that he has never ended up on the injured list in the majors, this deal looks more and more of a steal. Many did see this acquisition as a sign that Brock Holt won’t be suiting up in a Boston uniform for the 2020 season, but with the new 26-man active roster, I wouldn’t count out the two parties agreeing to a deal before Spring Training.
Who will the Sox ship?
Mookie Betts, Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi are all names that have been thrown around in trade talks. The most talked-about scenario is that they will ship Price and either Bradley or Benny in an attempt to dump Price’s extensive contract. However, with the monster signings of Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole during Winter Meetings, the $96 million Price is owed over the next three years does not look so crazy anymore. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team looking to contend, such as the Angels or the Padres, would be willing to eat most, if not all, of Price’s contract without an additional piece.
The biggest question, however, is if the Sox will trade Betts before the 2020 season. The possibility of an extension seems to be non-existent, which means Betts will be exploring free agency next winter. Bloom will have to make the decision if he is ready to go all-in on the 2018 MVP following the 2020 season, or if he’d rather say goodbye while he’s still able to get a good return.
Which direction will they take?
Right now, Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox are at a crossroads. It is unclear whether they see 2020 as a rebuilding season to cut payroll, or if they are looking to be serious contenders. Contending this season will not be an easy task; they still need a first baseman, serious help in their bullpen, and likely another starting pitcher. Right now, they’re in an awkward stage between the two paths, which as shown by a disappointing 2019, won’t lead to anything but another mediocre season. Bloom will have to take a hard look at Boston’s current pieces, and decide which of those pieces are vital to Boston’s future.