Baseball Notebook: Red Sox’ depth provides some tradeable pieces – Boston Herald
Year 2 is Dave Dombrowski’s chance to show off his creativity. Year 1 was paint-by-numbers.
Last offseason, the Red Sox’ plan was clear cut: Find a starter, reliever and backup outfielder. The president of baseball operations signed David Price to a record contract, traded four prospects for closer Craig Kimbrel and signed outfielder Chris Young. The team got better.
This winter it’s not so simple. The Red Sox’ obvious needs are in the bullpen and at designated hitter. But they also are deep and flexible, meaning if Dombrowski wants to look for interesting ways to upgrade his roster, he certainly can.
In that spirit, here are five Red Sox players who could be expendable this offseason:
• Jackie Bradley Jr., 26, CF
This is no knock against Bradley, who had an All-Star season and still has four years left of team control, though he’s up for arbitration this offseason and should make at least $3 million. It’s a testament to the Red Sox’ depth in center field.
Few can roam center as well as Bradley, but the Sox have two other center fielders in their outfield in Mookie Betts, who just won a Gold Glove in right, and Andrew Benintendi, a natural center fielder who was converted to left field last season.
Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond are the top two free agent center fielders, but more than two teams need one. The White Sox are one, and they reportedly inquired about Bradley for Chris Sale in July. The Oakland A’s are another. And though they typically trade players in their first year of arbitration, not acquire them, they could use the dynamic playmaker Bradley, who wouldn’t be just a piece in Oakland but a star.
• Blake Swihart, 24, C
Swihart is back behind the plate in winter ball as he prepares to enter spring training as a catcher. But the Red Sox also have Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez.
Members of the organization have long been split about Swihart’s best position. There is no debate about his impressive offensive ability, however.
The White Sox are in need of a catcher and might finally go for a rebuild. Maybe David Robertson, with two years left with $25 million owed to him, could be a trade target as the new Red Sox set-up man. The Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers, among others, also need backstops.
• Travis Shaw, 26, 1B/3B
Shaw still has a chip on his shoulder. A dominant offensive performer for two months in 2016, his bat disappeared for the rest of the season. He knows he’s capable of better. Other teams who watched his sweet swing and smooth glove in April and May surely know that, too.
Teams in need of third basemen this winter don’t have many options in free agency, with Justin Turner and Luis Valbuena the two best options. The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers are in need. Shaw grew up at Dodger Stadium when his dad, Jeff, pitched for them.
• Clay Buchholz, 32, RHP
Most teams could use more starters, especially when the market is as thin as it is this offseason. And if the Red Sox want to free up salary to pursue another front-line starter or upgrade at another position, Buchholz’ $13.5 million might be the first place to start.
He’s a free agent after this season, so depending on the new CBA rules, he could be a qualifying offer candidate if he has a strong year. The chance at getting a draft pick might be small, so that is one reason not to trade him.
• Drew Pomeranz, 28, LHP
Trading Pomeranz makes sense only if the Red Sox have their eyes on an upgrade in the rotation. He had a breakout 2016 season and while he struggled in the American League, with a 4.59 ERA after his trade from San Diego, he remains a quality left-handed starter with two years left of team control.
The Red Sox are in good shape if they open the season with Pomeranz as the No. 3 or No. 4 starter. If they can find a way to upgrade, even better.
A Big Papi sighting
Few players can tease their fans like David Ortiz.
In May, he had the ultimate tease when he told Yahoo! Sports he was hoping the Red Sox didn’t make the decision to retire difficult by offering him $25 million to play again in 2017. He had a team option for $16 million.
Dombrowski didn’t take the bait, telling the Herald earlier this month that he didn’t believe it was his responsibility to try and change Ortiz’ mind.
“It’s not even making it a hard decision — it’s respect,” Dombrowski said. “If you tell me something, that’s what you believe and I have to respect what you say. And so we respect what he says.”
Maybe Dombrowski should reconsider, especially after the 40-year-old icon dropped another hint last week in a letter published in the Players Tribune, admitting he’s already gone back to Fenway Park to work out since the season ended.
“Everybody was gone,” Ortiz wrote. “It was just me and my trainer alone in the gym at Fenway. I started working out and I got tired so fast. The fastest I’ve ever gotten tired. I was dying.
“All of a sudden, the president of the Red Sox came in and saw me working out. He was like, ‘See, this is the stuff that scares me, David.’ I’m like, ‘No, no, I just don’t want to be sitting at home doing nothing.’ ”
Dombrowski then asked him, “Do you have something to tell me, David?”
“No, no, no,” Ortiz said. “I’m retired. I swear.”
Good news for Amazon Prime members who travel during the baseball season and want to catch the Red Sox on NESN while away from the home market: Amazon is looking into streaming live sports, including MLB games, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, who is also on the MLB competitions committee, said on CNBC last week that he was not concerned that MLB could become oversaturated.
“I think you want to be ubiquitous, don’t you?” Werner said on CNBC. “You want to sell rifles to cowboys and indians, right? We want to be on cable. We want to be on the mobile phone, on satellite. I think you want to be everywhere.”
Hot start for Hazen
It’s not often the Arizona Diamondbacks make a trade and receive positive feedback from industry insiders, but that’s exactly what happened on Thanksgiving eve.
Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen, the former Red Sox GM, late Wednesday night worked a trade with the Seattle Mariners, netting right-hander Taijuan Walker, 24, and shortstop Ketel Marte, 21, while selling high on former All-Star shortstop Jean Segura.
“Young, controllable pitching is hard to find,” Hazen told the Arizona Republic.
Walker is the prize, despite being an unfinished product with a career 4.18 ERA.
There are five pitchers in MLB history to throw as many as 350 innings with a strikeout rate of 8.1-per-nine-innings and a strikeout-to-walk rate of 3.25 before turning 24 years old: Roger Clemens, Mark Prior, Madison Bumgarner, Jose Fernandez and Walker.
Hazen’s tenure in Arizona is off to quite the start.