Let’s head to Boston for the latest from Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom…
- Bloom thinks the Red Sox should be competitive this season, writes Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez’s return to prominence is a crux of that belief, however, as Bloom notes that they know “how important he is to our lineup and just how much he brings a lineup together when he’s doing what he can do.” Martinez is upper crust when he’s on. He went six consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2019 posting absurd weighted runs created numbers between 136 wRC+ and 170 wRC+. The 33-year-old slugger saw his numbers crater in 2020 to a .213/.291/.389 line worth -1.0 fWAR and 77 wRC+. His isolated power fell to .175 ISO, though a 9.3 percent walk rate and 24.9 percent strikeout rate fell within the range of his career norms. A .259 BABIP was well below his career averages, and while his batted ball profile wasn’t horrendous, it also wasn’t all-world for the first time in his Boston tenure. Martinez needs to be a threat for the rest of the Boston lineup to fall into place.
- Bloom maintains his long-term perspective, hoping to see the next Red Sox core establishing themselves by the end of 2021, writes the Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey. Said Bloom, “That next core that is going to be the center of a sustainable championship contender. To see that core taking shape, both with the players who have been here, who have been part of the core that won the last championship — that are going to continue to be here – and then the players who are going to join that group, whether it’s from within our system, whether it’s guys we’ve acquired, or even guys who might not be here yet. To feel that by the end of the year, we can see that core taking even more shape than we can see right now.”
- There are only so many candidates left that Bloom could be referring to when talking about members of the last Red Sox champ. Ostensibly, that’s Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers on the position player side. The former was extended through 2025, and the latter could be next in line, if indeed Bloom views him as a centerpiece offensive contributor. The Red Sox can clear a lot of payroll space after this season, and only Bogaerts and Chris Sale are on the books for 2023, so there’s plenty of runway for Devers to land a long-term extension.
- Red Sox manager Alex Cora is leaning towards entering the season with a three-man position player bench, a strategy buoyed by the recent signings of Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez. Michael Chavis is another guy who will move around the diamond a bit. Cora plans on giving Chavis time at third, first, second, and left field. But he wants to see more consistency from the young right-hander at the plate, per Rob Bradford of WEEI sports radio network. Chavis especially needs to mash versus southpaws, though he has just a .257 wOBA against lefties through 158 career plate appearances compared to a .281 wOBA versus same-handed hurlers.