2019 Winter Meetings Conclude
The 2019 Winter Meetings have wrapped up in San Diego, and plenty of splashes were made; Gerrit Cole signed with the New York Yankees, Stephen Strasburg returned to the Washington Nationals, and Anthony Rendon went out west to the Los Angeles Angels just to name a few. The Boston Red Sox weren’t as active in their pursuits during the meetings. The team has made one thing clear, however, they want to shed salary; that pay cut may not come by way of Mookie Betts though, Chaim Bloom seems to have his sights on David Price.
There are four players that have legitimately been discussed as avenues for Bloom to get payroll down below the $208 million threshold: Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Betts, and Price. These are four of the six highest paying contracts for the 2020 season.
Now that the Winter Meetings have passed it seems less and less likely that the team will be dealing Betts before the start of the season. It has been heavily reported that the front office is focusing primarily on the pitching staff as a way to lower payroll. Unless the team is out of the playoff race by July, it seems likely that the team will play out the final season of Betts’ deal and attempt to re-sign him on the open market.
Sale is set to make about $25 million next season — which could end up being a steal if he returns to his 2018 form. While potentially great value, that still would be the fourth highest paying contract on the team for next season. Trading the left-hander seems like an unlikely, but possible, scenario. If the team were to test the market for Sale it wouldn’t be until midway through the season. The Red Sox are holding out hope that he can return to be the ace he once was following a disappointing 2019 campaign. Boston would have to be way back in the playoff hunt to even consider trading Sale — especially at the potential value his contract presents.
2019 took the shine off of Eovaldi’s World Series heroics as he came crashing back down to earth last season. The righty is set to make $17 million for the next three seasons. He only made 12 starts last year, stunting a 5.99 ERA throughout 23 appearances. 2019 also featured Eovaldi’s worst WHIP and HR/9 of his career, along with his second worst BB/9. Injuries sidelined the World Series hero, making him a tough sell for this offseason. Getting anything of value in return would be nearly impossible without taking on some money, or packaging somebody with him. Teams have checked in on Eovaldi, but the team seems more interested in trading a different starting pitcher.
The biggest story surrounding the club after leaving San Diego is their pursuit to trade David Price. Five teams have been linked to the pitcher amidst the shuffle of December: the San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, and the Los Angeles Angels. Price is the highest paid player on the roster right now, coming in at about $32 million for next season. Entering his age 34 season, the lefty went 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA last year but was the most reliable starter Boston had until midway through the summer. Injuries left their stamp on his season, but he still remained relatively productive when he could make it onto the field.
Based on this shortlist of players, dealing Price does make sense for the club. He has still been effective as he enters the later stage of his career; the best of Price is in the rearview mirror, however. Selling somewhat high on a guy like Price makes a lot of sense. If the team still wants to remain competitive — which all signs indicate that they do — they won’t be left completely dry without Price. The team will still have Sale, and an emerging Eduardo Rodriguez to anchor the rotation. This isn’t the flashiest one-two punch, but it could for sure be worse.
The issue with dealing Price is the same issue as keeping Price — the salary. The $32 million price-tag is a big hit for a player on the back end of their career. Boston will likely have to retain a decent amount of his salary in a trade. The second option would be to attach a second player of value to get a team to bite.
Andrew Benintendi has been one player linked to Price as a possible tagalong, but that won’t happen. While sporting one the best outfields in baseball for the past few seasons, it’s more uncertain than ever after 2020. Jackie Bradley Jr., and Betts will both hit the free agent market after the season; leaving Benintendi as the only sure thing for next year. The outfielder also isn’t expected to keep up the subpar play from a year ago.
A more likely option could be Michael Chavis. Chavis showed promise during his time with Boston in 2019. He is a power hitter who is a versatile infielder as well. The main reason Boston should look to sell-high on him is their infield depth in the minors. According to SoxProspects.com, three of the team’s top-nine prospects are infielders.
Triston Casas is the team’s highest ranked prospect, but the corner infielder isn’t estimated to hit the bigs until 2022. Third baseman Bobby Dalbec and middle infielder C.J. Chatham are each expected to debut this upcoming season. Dalbec’s scouting report says he has trouble with footwork in the field but is good with the glove, making him a candidate to potentially be moved to first-base while Rafael Devers occupies third-base. The acquisition of Jose Peraza also gives the team depth if Chavis were to be dealt.
Chaim Bloom Changing Culture
Trading Price could leave the pitching staff even thinner than it already was, but Bloom proved that he knows how to win on a budget with the Tampa Bay Rays. The signings of Peraza and Martin Perez prove that Bloom is attempting to take a step back following the aftermath of Dave Dombrowski. Bloom also had to win by developing his roster through the minor leagues in Tampa, which means Red Sox Nation may not get the big free agent signing they’ve gotten so used to. If David Price is dealt, that will likely be the biggest domino to fall.