Following a startling afternoon report that the Red Sox would “listen” to offers on franchise cornerstones Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello, and Jackie Bradley Jr., presumably in order to clear payroll space for upgrades elsewhere on the diamond, the BoSox brass spent much of the evening in equivocation. Indeed, NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich reports that the defending champs would need to be “blown away” to deal their star shortstop, and the notion that they’re “actively shopping” these players is “overblown.” Replacing the 26-year-old Bogaerts, who’s posted an exceptional 17.4 fWAR over the last four seasons, would be nearly impossible, and the rental market, at least in recent times, leaves little to be desired. Boston, though, will face a number of tough decisions with core players in the upcoming seasons: after all, nearly half of the team’s projected 25-man roster is set to hit free agency by the conclusion of 2020 season.
In other news from Beantown . . .
- Both Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Chad Jennings of The Athletic offer insight into the potential mass exodus set to hit the club after the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Each of Bogaerts, Porcello, Chris Sale, and possibly J.D. Martinez (if he elects to exercise his opt-out) are free agents after next season, with Bradley and Mookie Betts set to hit the market the following year. Though the club’s annual reserves match (and often surpass) that of any other MLB team, keeping all these players in the fold seems altogether unlikely: “I do caution, and the one thing I keep talking about, is that it’s just from a financial perspective and rule perspective, it’s not going to be possible to keep everybody that we have,” GM Dave Dombrowski said. “You have to realize that if anybody is signed long term now, it may have an effect on some other things that you may do later on.” It seems prudent, then, to cull from at least two of the lower-profile members of the group (which includes a half-dozen or so other contributors), though Porcello, with his $21.1MM salary for next season, and Bradley, with declining performance in the box, may not yield the assets the BoSox desire.
- Drellich, in a separate report, cites sources claiming that lefty Chris Sale would be “open” to extension talks, and perhaps more so than “most players of his caliber.” The 29-year-old, of course, just completed one of the most impressive seasons in AL history and is on a surefire hall-of-fame trajectory; the figures, then, are sure to be astronomical, but neither the team nor Dombrowski have shied away from huge starting-pitcher payouts in the past.
- Christopher Smith of MLB.com reports that the Sox “prefer to trade” one of their three catchers before Spring Training but “are willing” to hold on to each. Blake Swihart, long the subject of trade rumors across the baseball landscape, continued to disappoint at the plate in 2018, while platoon mates Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon combined for a dreadful -1.7 fWAR. The position seems a clear target of upgrade for the defending champs, though dealing from their current surfeit may be challenging, to say the least.