The Red Sox signed Hunter Renfroe to a one-year deal earlier this week, adding a power bat to pair with Andrew Benintendi and Alex Verdugo in the outfield. However, general manager Brian O’Halloran said in an interview on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this morning that the addition of Renfroe does not prevent the Sox from further adding to their outfield corps (Twitter link, with audio). “The door is definitely not closed on adding to the mix, and that could certainly be a traditional center fielder that has experience — a guy like Jackie Bradley Jr.” said O’Halloran. “We’ve said that Jackie remains on our radar, and nothing is foreclosed there.”
O’Halloran went on to note that at the moment, the likeliest in-house replacement for Bradley in center field would be Verdugo, not Benintendi. Presumably, the current group would line up with Benintendi in left, Verdugo in center and Renfroe in right. Bringing a center fielder into the mix could push the right-handed-hitting Renfroe into more of a platoon role, which could prove beneficial for Boston. Renfroe is a career .216/.268/.449 hitter against righties but has clobbered lefties at a .258/.339/.573 clip.
Some more notes out of Boston…
- The rotation remains a priority for the Sox, with Alex Cora telling reporters Thursday that Halloran and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom have been “relentless” in their exploration of the market for starting pitching upgrades (link via Christopher Smith of MassLive.com). It’s perhaps notable that Cora specifically referred to an “intriguing” crop of starters that are available on the international market. The Red Sox have already been connected to Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, who has been posted for MLB clubs, and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have also posted righty Kohei Arihara. The Sox will hope to have a trio of Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi healthy by this summer, but each has his own slate of health concerns and the organization is thin in terms of upper-level rotation depth.
- Speaking of the international market for players, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe lists Ha-Seong Kim as a fit for the Red Sox in looking through their need at second base. While the connection to Kim here is framed a bit speculatively, Speier writes that “in all likelihood,” he’s the only free-agent option at the position to whom the Red Sox would be willing to commit more than two years, as his youth and upside fit with the team’s long-term goals. Most other options are likely to be viewed more as stopgaps or bridges to prospect Jeter Downs. Via Speier, Bloom suggested that the Red Sox are open to adding an established, everyday option at second base but aren’t dead-set on doing so. A multi-position piece who could leave some opportunity for in-house options like Christian Arroyo and Michael Chavis to seize regular playing time remains a possibility as well. For what it’s worth, Cora spoke highly of Arroyo in today’s call with reporters, praising his “upside” and noting that he’d previously recruited him to play for team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
- While Cora was reluctant to discuss specific roles for players, he called right-hander Matt Barnes someone the team “should consider” for the closer role in 2021 (link via Steve Hewitt of the Boston Herald). Cora emphasized that it’s unfair to any player to speak as though he has a defined role now, with months of offseason transactions still to come, but he also praised the manner in which Barnes handled ninth-inning duties in 2020. “If the season starts tomorrow and we have the lead in the ninth inning and we haven’t used Matt in the seventh or eighth, I flip him the ball and I believe he can get the three outs and get us to the next day,” Cora said before going on to call Barnes one of the game’s best relievers over the past few seasons. Some may raise an eyebrow at that description, given Barnes’ 3.83 ERA since 2017. It’s worth noting, though, that of the 232 pitchers with 200-plus innings thrown over the past four seasons, only six have struck out a higher percentage of opposing batters than Barnes (34.1 percent), and only 22 have a lower FIP than Barnes’ 3.30.