The 2022 Rotation

chawson

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Why is everyone so interested in making trades now? At the deadline, wasn’t the argument that we didn’t want to move our top prospects and that the lower tier guys didn’t have much value, has that changed?

Granted there are a larger pool of available players in the off-season but there are also more suitors and also players available as free agents for just money.

If there’s a good match for a player that fills a long term foundational need, sure…but the Sox aren’t really locked up for very long at any position, so trading a Yorke, Houck, Duran or anyone else with any value just creates another hole.

I guess it just feels to me like with the current state of this team and the assets it has, free agency is the most likely way to build.
I agree with you that free agency is probably the best way to build this team, but not that it’s the most likely.

It’s been a pet idea of mine for awhile that the Sox have a disproportionately rough time signing free agent starters to multi-year deals relative to our big-market peers. Think about it — who was the last Sox incoming free agent starter the Sox signed to a multi-year deal that worked out? John Burkett?

YMMV on what “worked out” means, of course. Titles tend to bleach the stains out of otherwise regrettable deals (and I say all this as a defender of Dice-K and David Price). My point is that in the Henry era, the Sox have either whiffed on or overpaid to lure premium free agent starters because they have to overcome unfavorable factors in geography, park effects, media pressure and a tough offensive environment that doesn’t set pitchers up well for their next contract. In other words, anyone good enough for us to be in on is likely also pursued by major-market teams who can outspend us or offer warmer weather.

Secondly, I think trading for pitching gives Bloom a greater say in the number of years-under-contract an acquisition has. That method still sometimes allows us to use our financial advantage, because we can take on an unwanted contract (Beckett/Lowell, Kelly/Craig). But it’s just been easier for us to trade hitting for pitching, partly because the Fenway is attractive to hitters and makes some of them more productive than other parks.

In the pandemic era, I think our FO is even more likely to acquire by trade. Cheap teams are more likely to shed payroll, and players could be more likely to sign contracts near their families (which are almost never in New England). There are a lot of possible deals that make sense like this (Freeland; Montas + Andrus; Sonny Gray + Moustakas/Akiyama; Padrespitcher + Hosmer/Kim/Myers; Mondesi + Santana, etc.) The guaranteed money in almost those trades would be off the books in 2024, which could be more preferable to Bloom’s long-term plan (say, going after Juan Soto).

But I agree with you that in most cases, free agency is preferable. Of Scherzer, Ray, Rodon, Gausman, Stroman, Kershaw, Gray, Matz, Kikuchi, Duffy and Greinke, the remaining FA starters, it’s still possible we snag one, and I hope we do! No interest in the last three names, and I think Rodón, Gray and Kershaw have more injury risk than we’re willing to take on. There’s a lot of smoke around Matz, but I have a hunch that Bloom is more in on Stroman more than we realize.
 
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Petagine in a Bottle

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Jan 13, 2021
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With Eovaldi a FA to be, wouldn’t it be best to sign a starter to a multi-year deal? A one year deal leaves at be least two openings in next years rotation. I guess if you squint you can see a few potential rotation candidates in the system but hardly a given.

re the idea of the Sox assuming a bad contract to get pitching, so the Sox have that much payroll to work with? I’m skeptical.

has Bloom made an offer of more than two years to anyone yet, as Sox GM?
 

Daniel_Son

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May 25, 2021
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With Eovaldi a FA to be, wouldn’t it be best to sign a starter to a multi-year deal? A one year deal leaves at be least two openings in next years rotation. I guess if you squint you can see a few potential rotation candidates in the system but hardly a given.

re the idea of the Sox assuming a bad contract to get pitching, so the Sox have that much payroll to work with? I’m skeptical.

has Bloom made an offer of more than two years to anyone yet, as Sox GM?
I took a quick look at the next class of free agent starters, and nothing really stands out to me. Maybe deGrom opts out? Take a shot at Bassitt or Boyd on a shorter deal?

Chris Bassitt
Matthew Boyd
Carlos Carrasco (club option)
Mike Clevinger
Jacob deGrom (opt-out)
Zach Eflin
Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Flexen (club option)
Kyle Gibson
Sonny Gray (club option)
Andrew Heaney
Dallas Keuchel (club option)
Sean Manaea
Wade Miley
Mike Minor (club option)
Charlie Morton (club option)
Joe Musgrove
Aaron Nola (club option)
Jake Odorizzi (player option)
David Price, Chris Sale (opt-out)
Luis Severino (club option)
Ross Stripling
Noah Syndergaard
Jameson Taillon
Taijuan Walker (player option)
 

chawson

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re the idea of the Sox assuming a bad contract to get pitching, so the Sox have that much payroll to work with? I’m skeptical.
Yes. A thousand times yes. We’ll see what the new CBA is like, but under the current one the Sox should be geared up to exceed the luxury tax threshold for two years before dipping under (and we as fans should want them to). Many of those trade targets (Gray, Montas, Freeland) have contracts that come off the books after two more years, meaning they fit very well with a plan to not exceed the threshold a third year, whereas a 3 or 4 year deal for Matz might hamper it.

Again, that framework may change with the new CBA, but those are the only payroll constraints that matter under the current rules.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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I've seen links of the Sox to Stroman, although I'm guessing that's just due diligence. I've always liked him, but I don't really think he's better than E-Rod. If we weren't going to 5/$77 there, I can't see us in the Stroman bidding.
 

chawson

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I've seen links of the Sox to Stroman, although I'm guessing that's just due diligence. I've always liked him, but I don't really think he's better than E-Rod. If we weren't going to 5/$77 there, I can't see us in the Stroman bidding.
Who knows, but I see Stroman as our last realistic option in the FA SP market, unless we wanna fool around with more Pérez- and Richards-types in the post-spider tack era.

As for the money, it seems kinda six-of-one. If we fail to sign a FA starter, we’ll need to spend prospects to get one or two by trade. Our hand may then be forced to do so. We should make trades, I think, but better to do it not out of necessity.

One thing about Stroman that doesn’t get enough attention is his plus defense. He’s 2nd in all of baseball in DRS from 2017-21 (+18) and 2nd in assists (134) despite sitting out 2020. I’m also not sure people get how good his new split-change is, or how good he is at limiting home runs (8th of 130 SPs from 2018-21). He compares pretty well with Lance McCullers, a guy with a much more worrisome injury history that the Astros just extended at 5/$85. Stroman is three years older of course, but I’d happily him to that deal in a heartbeat.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Of course Stroman would be great but there’s just no evidence the Sox are truly interested in going long term on anyone, never mind a 5’7” pitcher They made a half hearted effort to retain E-Rod and dabbled on Matz, who both signed pretty reasonable deals. I’d expect more dumpster diving (they reportedly made an offer on Heaney) and hoping for better results than they got with Richards and Perez.

It’s only been two years but it seems clear that Bloom would prefer to avoid long term deals and doesn’t want to trade too prospects. Is there any reason to think that mindset is going to change, especially before there’s more clarity on a new CBA?
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Mar 11, 2007
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I’m really of the opinion they’re going for Kershaw- and it’ll be shockingly cheap. Relatively.
They have the flexibility and lack of urgency (despite what some are feeling here, I don’t think it’s a win now situation) .
 

Apisith

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Kershaw's getting PRP injections instead of surgery, but a lot of pitchers have gone that route and ended up needing surgery. Signing him would be taking a big gamble on his ability to stay healthy next year. I don't see why we should be taking that kind of risk. What's the upside, really? Even before this forearm injury he was getting back injuries every year which limited his innings. As a LHP with declining velocity, lining him up to pitch often against the Yankees and Blue Jays doesn't really seem enticing.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Kershaw's getting PRP injections instead of surgery, but a lot of pitchers have gone that route and ended up needing surgery. Signing him would be taking a big gamble on his ability to stay healthy next year. I don't see why we should be taking that kind of risk. What's the upside, really? Even before this forearm injury he was getting back injuries every year which limited his innings. As a LHP with declining velocity, lining him up to pitch often against the Yankees and Blue Jays doesn't really seem enticing.
I'm thinking that nobody will touch him for this reason, but I'm seeing the possibility that he can stay healthy as a 4... possibly 5, inning starter. Not being asked to pitch more than 70 and being effective enough for the new type of pitching staff construction that he'll be valuable (and worth the contract) in this type of role. Yeah, it's risky, but I think with 6 "starters" and I'm using the term pretty loosely, thinking that possibly both Crawford and Seabold may end up on the 25 man... they have the flexibility to take that risk.
I'm sort of thinking out loud here but I don't see any other FA pitcher that the Sox are "in" on in earnest, and I don't think they have the prospects to turn a trade on returning a quality starter either....
 

chawson

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Of course Stroman would be great but there’s just no evidence the Sox are truly interested in going long term on anyone, never mind a 5’7” pitcher They made a half hearted effort to retain E-Rod and dabbled on Matz, who both signed pretty reasonable deals. I’d expect more dumpster diving (they reportedly made an offer on Heaney) and hoping for better results than they got with Richards and Perez.

It’s only been two years but it seems clear that Bloom would prefer to avoid long term deals and doesn’t want to trade too prospects. Is there any reason to think that mindset is going to change, especially before there’s more clarity on a new CBA?
You’ve said this a few times and I’m not sure where you’re getting it from. I think for it to be true, we’d have to assume the Sox value every pitcher the same way, which seems like a leap.

There’s plenty of reason to think the mindset has changed from last offseason, when Bloom stated a preference for 1-2 year deals. That made sense given where we were last year, but it’d be terrible if the Sox suddenly refused to offer multi-year deals as a permanent roster-strategy. Stroman is certainly getting somewhere between 3-5 years. I think we’re reportedly in on him, we can assume we’re in that range too.

This is where I wonder if Red Sox owner LeBron James comes into play. Stroman is the face of Klutch Sports’ baseball division, a company owned by LeBron’s old friend Rich Paul that also reps LeBron. It would make some sense that James could head up an effective lobby here.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Well, they had E-Rod, two years younger than Stroman with similar career #s, and made a half-hearted effort to bring him back. They have pursued Matz and Heaney but obviously didn’t land either.

Sure, it’s possible that they are also interested in giving a long term deal to Stroman and are willing to give the right pitcher a 4/5 year deal but the evidence we have so far seems to suggest they want a pitcher on a short term deal, no? I think the same thing Is happening with Schwarber, they want him back, but only on their terms.

I know you think the team is willing to spend a lot of money, but until it happens, I’m skeptical and think they will continue to be very cautious and operate the way they have since Bloom took over, at least until there’s a new CBA.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I'm thinking that nobody will touch him for this reason, but I'm seeing the possibility that he can stay healthy as a 4... possibly 5, inning starter. Not being asked to pitch more than 70 and being effective enough for the new type of pitching staff construction that he'll be valuable (and worth the contract) in this type of role. Yeah, it's risky, but I think with 6 "starters" and I'm using the term pretty loosely, thinking that possibly both Crawford and Seabold may end up on the 25 man... they have the flexibility to take that risk.
I'm sort of thinking out loud here but I don't see any other FA pitcher that the Sox are "in" on in earnest, and I don't think they have the prospects to turn a trade on returning a quality starter either....
If nobody is in on Kershaw and they can get him for a song (relatively speaking...still probably talking an eight figure salary), it might be worth it to deploy him in a more limited role where they can protect him. I just have my doubts that his price drops that much. There's bound to be another team who'd be willing to take a flyer on Kershaw at the "right price." Perhaps one or two that have more flexibility in their payroll to take a big(ger) swing with him. I'm thinking specifically of the Rangers (hometown appeal) or the Angels (though they might have taken their flyer with Syndergaard).
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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This is where I wonder if Red Sox owner LeBron James comes into play. Stroman is the face of Klutch Sports’ baseball division, a company owned by LeBron’s old friend Rich Paul that also reps LeBron. It would make some sense that James could head up an effective lobby here.
I think this might overstate LeBron's involvement in FSG. I expect that until he retires from the NBA, LeBron's role is entirely financial. Or at the very least, he's not taking time out of his in-season schedule to poke his nose into contract negotiations for one of the subsidiaries of a group he holds a minority stake in.
 

chawson

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I think this might overstate LeBron's involvement in FSG. I expect that until he retires from the NBA, LeBron's role is entirely financial. Or at the very least, he's not taking time out of his in-season schedule to poke his nose into contract negotiations for one of the subsidiaries of a group he holds a minority stake in.
Sure, but LeBron seems to have time for a lot of things besides his NBA schedule, doesn’t he?

It was pretty widely inferred when James joined FSG that his involvement would both help attract a younger audience to MLB/the team as well as help the Red Sox address some stains in their franchise legacy. Here’s how a Guardian article put it in March of this year.

Then there’s the other historical aspect to James joining the ownership team. Discussing the move with the media last night, James said, “I think for me and my partner, Maverick, to be the first two Black men to be a part of that ownership group and history of that franchise, I think it’s pretty damn cool.”

That history, of course, is that the Red Sox were the last MLB franchise to integrate, something which has tarnished the team’s reputation ever since. James’s involvement with the franchise should be one more move to distance itself from the shameful racist legacy of former owner Tom Yawkey. Oh, and hey, if it also happens to make the team more appealing to fans from minorities – or maybe even more appealing to potential free agents – why that’s all the better from a financial standpoint.


I can only speculate that this narrative affects Stroman, but as a fan I’m keenly interested in the Sox addressing this head on. Put it this way: if there’s any MLB player that James’s opinion might help sway here, I’d think it’s a friend who belongs to the same sports agency (and who takes open shots at the Yankees). It just so happens that guy’s a free agent without a QO who fits our needs exactly.
 
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Jack Rabbit Slim

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Well, they had E-Rod, two years younger than Stroman with similar career #s
Except this isn't really true. ERA+ the last 5 years for each:

Edro - 109, 116, 128, DNP, 100
Stroman - 145, 77, 137, DNP, 133

I was hoping for them to re-sign Edro, but it is very possible (maybe even likely) he just had a career year in 2019 and it was still worse than 3 out of the last 4 years Stroman pitched. Add in the longterm covid concerns and reports of declining velocity and it sure seems like Stroman is the better bet going forward. I wouldn't be upset at all if they went to 5/100 for Stroman.
 

TedYaz&JimEd

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Feb 8, 2020
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https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2021/11/quick-hits-red-sox-hill-twins-cruz-rockies-black.html
Rich Hill has already emphatically stated that he’ll be back for 2022, a season in which he’ll be 42 years old. But would the Red Sox be interested in a reunion with the Massachusetts native? “There is an interest, without a doubt,” Hill told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. “There’s a need on the other end. [But] the need for starting pitching is very apparent throughout the league — not just in Boston. It’s also many other clubs that need it.”
So what about Rich Hill? Getting older, long injury history, and yet… he’s still pitching and pitching well. Why would he be less preferable to some of the flotsam they’ve dragged in over the past couple years? I’m sincerely curious.