The Boston Red Sox made a splash in signing starting pitcher David Price on Tuesday, which will likely lead to a couple of other roster-shaking moves. What’s next for the Red Sox as the offseason hot stove heats up?
New President Dave Dombrowski is putting his stamp on the Red Sox early in the offseason. He acquired the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel and added depth to the outfield by signing Chris Young. By signing Price, Dombrowski is staging himself to make another move or two.
Add Chris Young to Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo and Brock Holt, and it’s obvious the Red Sox are angling for a trade.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 30, 2015
The offseason is young. With Price off the market, other starting pitchers are going to be signing with teams. This bodes well for the Red Sox as they have veteran starters and young outfielders that are more expendable and can be traded to upgrade at other positions.
Hanley Ramirez was signed last offseason by the Red Sox. Ramirez has a great offensive threat in the middle of any team’s lineup, but his defense is what will keep him off the field. He finished with -19 defensive runs saved last season, according to FanGraphs. The Red Sox are experimenting with moving Ramirez to first base to try and combat his poor defense.
Ramirez’s left field experiment failed miserably in 2015. When he played shortstop with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014, his DRS was -9. His poor defense at shortstop is a big reason why the Dodgers elected not to re-sign Ramirez last offseason. However, if Ramirez can figure out how to play first base, it may be the best play for the 2016 season.
MLB Trade Rumors has reported that the Red Sox are trying to trade Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez is signed through the 2018 season after signing a four-year, $88 million deal with the Red Sox in 2014. It will be difficult to trade Ramirez with his contract, but the Red Sox may be able to trade him to a team that needs a right-handed power bat, such as the Seattle Mariners.
With the addition of veteran outfielder Chris Young, the Red Sox have positioned themselves with an opportunity to move one of their young outfielders. Boston has been adamant about keeping Mookie Betts. The Red Sox are high on first-round pick Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi hit .313 with 11 home runs, seven doubles and four triples in a span of 54 games between both low single-A and single A.
With the Red Sox placing a high value on Betts and Benintendi, it makes young outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo expendable. Bradley’s defense is highly coveted and could make him the most valuable trade piece. Bradley Jr. will be under team control until 2021 when he is eligible to become a free agent. That provides a lot of value for small and mid-sized market teams. It also provides value for teams that are rebuilding.
Castillo hasn’t proved himself at the MLB level yet. He is signed through 2020 and is a more expensive option after signing a seven-year, $72.5 million deal in 2013. It is more likely that Castillo will stay, but his potential could make him a trade piece for a larger market team.
Perhaps three likely possibilities for the Red Sox would be to make a push for Atlanta Braves’ starter Shelby Miller, packaging an outfielder in a deal with Hanley Ramirez or even trading for prospects with the Chicago Cubs.
Price was thought to be considered the Cubs’ ideal pitching target in free agency because of his openness about pitching in the National League, having played for Joe Maddon before and his interest in pitching for the Cubs. With Price signed with the Red Sox, the Cubs and former Red Sox executive Theo Epstein could quickly strike a deal for a different starting pitcher.
Epstein is very familiar with the Red Sox players and farm system, and now could be a prime time to make a move. Clay Buchholz may be pursued by the Cubs. A potential deal for Buchholz would give the Cubs two years of control, but it would also allow them to pursue free agent outfielder Jason Heyward.
Boston could also move starting pitcher Joe Kelly. Kelly has struggled in Boston and has battled injury. His 4.82 ERA with the Red Sox has been disappointing, but Kelly showed promise in his last eight starts of the 2015 season. During that span, Kelly had five quality starts and gave up two earned runs or less in seven games.
Kelly, 27, is under team control until 2019. He could be a highly pursued pitcher if the Red Sox make him available after his strong finish to the 2015 season. Kelly and Buchholz would both be pitchers that could bring a nice return of prospects to replenish the Red Sox farm system.
Imagine that the Red Sox could acquire David Price, Shelby Miller and Craig Kimbrel to improve their pitching staff this offseason. They could also add to their talented farm system and keep their first round draft pick. Dombrowski is setting up a special offseason for the Red Sox going forward. Boston has missed five of the last six playoffs, despite winning the World Series in 2013.
Red Sox fans need something to look forward to and Dombrowski is positioning the team to make a run at the playoffs. It appears that more moves are coming after prior moves that have positioned the Red Sox to build on their already strong offseason.