Beware of the Red Sox Post Lockout
Updated: Feb 3
There is serious danger of the 2022 Major League Baseball being delayed or cancelled entirely. On December 2nd, the owners imposed a lock out of the players. One day after the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement the lock out was imposed to create a sense of urgency for the players to negotiate a new CBA. We’re in February now so the owner's strategy clearly has not worked. In times of lock out and strikes it is always important to remember to root for the players. They’re the entertainment, they are who we pay to see. Another reason why we should support the players is because their proposal on the luxury tax would greatly benefit the Red Sox. It is no secret that MLB wants to lower the luxury tax threshold. They believe that a lower luxury tax would make the league more competitive for small market teams. I understand their logic but a smaller luxury tax would have teams pay significantly less money to add quality talent to their rosters. Nobody wants to see their favorite teams, who are worth billions of dollars, trade their favorite players over money disputes. However, an added reason for Red Sox fans to want the players' proposal for a higher luxury tax added to the CBA is it would greatly benefit the Red Sox. More money for Boston to have in their payroll gives Chaim Bloom so much creative freedom to improve the Red Sox’s 2022 roster. He waited out the Free Agent market until the new CBA was finalized, as that determines what the Red Sox can do this offseason. Here are a few Red Sox Free Agent targets for the Red Sox when the lockout is over.
Will the Red Sox really sign Carlos Correa?
In terms of team needs, the Red Sox need an outfielder, preferably a Right Handed bat. Beyond that, adding bullpen depth never hurt any ball club. That does not mean they are looking to improve their roster in all areas. In fact, it has been rumored that the Red Sox are looking into bringing an old foe to Fenway. I have been saying this since Cora was rehired, do not be surprised if the Red Sox sign Carlos Correa. One of the biggest areas of need for the Red Sox is an improved defense, particularly on the left side of the infield. Xander Bogaerts is one of the game’s premier shortstops but his defense at short is well below average. He makes plays when he gets his glove on the ball but his lack of range at short hurts the Red Sox on defense tremendously. Bogaerts' future in Boston is also in question. He has an opt out clause after this season and will likely be seeking a huge pay day. Enter Carlos Correa. There is a strong connection between Alex Cora and Carlos Correa. Cora was the bench coach for the Astros when Correa first came up to the big leagues. He is also one of the few Astros players Cora still keeps in touch with. Carlos Correa is a massive upgrade for the Red Sox defensively at short, a great hitter and a clutch postseason performer. Adding him to the Red Sox would unquestionably make the Red Sox better. There are rumors of Bogaerts shifting over to second base if the Red Sox sign Correa. Is this likely? Probably not, but the Red Sox certainly have the financial flexibility to spend big post lockout.
Adding an Outfielder
The last bit of Red Sox news we got before the lock out was trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects. Bradley’s first year away from Boston was his career worst. He hit just .163 with a Wins Above Replacement of -0.7 well below his usual standard. It is believed he is returning to Boston to serve as a fourth outfielder due to his regression at the plate, especially with Kikè’s stellar defensive play in center field this season. If that is the case, the Red Sox still need to sign someone to play right field. Renfroe was the everyday right fielder in 2021 and had a career year. Unless JBJ is in fact returning to play every day, the Red Sox will be adding another outfielder and there are several available.
Seiya Suzuki is one of the best international hitters the Free Agent market has ever seen. The 27 year old Right Fielder’s power at the plate has marveled the Japanese baseball world throughout his career. He is the right handed bat the Red Sox need after the loss of Hunter Renfroe. He has been rumored to be priority number one for Chaim Bloom after the end of the lockout. That being said, these are only rumors. You never know what the Chaim Bloom Red Sox front office will do these days.
Kyle Schwarber is not the Right Handed bat they are looking for or need but he did fit in nicely in Boston this summer. Schwarber had a career year in 2021 with a career best .928 OPS to go along with 32 home runs. He spent a good amount of time at First Base in 2021 for Boston but that will not be his permanent home at Fenway as Triston Casas is expected to take over First Base duties at some point in 2022. Despite Schwarber’s career year and success in a Red Sox uniform there is a concern his numbers were outlier. I understand the concern but I would not be so pessimistic. In recent years, we have had several players completely transform their career with new approaches at the plate in their late twenties. Kyle Schwarber is a good baseball player who any ball club would be lucky to have. His three year sixty million dollar asking price is also extremely reasonable. I hope we see him back at Fenway soon.
Kris Bryant has been one of the most talented players in baseball since arrival to the big leagues in 2015. There is no word that the Red Sox are interested in Bryant but I would not be surprised to see him in Boston in 2022. There are three reasons I see this as a good fit. First off, he is the Right Handed bat they are looking for, secondly his defensive versatility can create the lineup flexibility that Alex Cora wants his team to have and third, he is going to DESTROY baseballs over the Green Monster. Red Sox fans should rejoice if they hear he is coming to Boston.
Will the Red Sox Add to the Starting Rotation?
Strangely enough, the Boston Red Sox pitching staff has the most depth it has had in years. Here is a look at potential arms on the roster that could start for the Red Sox in 2022.
Players from 2021 Rotation
Nathan Eovaldi (signed through 2022)
James Paxton (signed for 6 million in 2022, team option for 2023 and 2024 seasons)
Rich Hill (signed one year five million dollar contract)
Michael Wacha (signed for one year, seven million)
There is also the possibility that 2021 breakout star reliever Garret Whitlock could possibly join the rotation as well. Despite the loss of Rodriguez, the Red Sox pitching staff looks to be in good shape going into 2022. They already did enough to add to the rotation before the lockout. Rich Hill was a great addition to the staff and when Paxton returns from Tommy John rehab the Red Sox rotation will be in great shape but you can never have too much pitching. The best available starting pitchers are Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grienke and Carlos Rodon. All three are well established big league pitchers but I cannot see the Red Sox adding anyone but Rodon, who likely is not worth his inevitable huge payday. That does not mean the Red Sox cannot afford him. Even though they do not need one, Another good starting pitcher might set the Red Sox apart from their American League competition. However, their answers might be in house.
Regardless of the what the Red Sox do after the lockout one thing is for sure. They will be busy. They have the the flexibility to do just about anything. Rival teams beware of the Red Sox post lockout.