- Aug 1, 2006
I agree with you that free agency is probably the best way to build this team, but not that it’s the most likely.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.
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.