I didn’t think the Sox had the guts to blow it up last winter. They did. And things have gone pretty great as far as the start of a rebuild goes. The key for 2018 is twofold: continue to get the young core major league reps and keep maximum payroll flexibility for next winter. I envision the Sox having something like only $40 million in payroll commitments heading into 2019 and thus they could be major players in free agency.
- Jose Abreu, $17.9M: Tender
- Avisail Garcia, $6.7M: Tender
- Yolmer Sanchez, $2.1M: Tender
- Carlos Rodon, $2.0M: Tender
- Danny Farquhar, $1.5M: Tender
- Zach Putnam, $1.4M: Tender
- Leury Garcia, $1.2M: Tender
- Jake Petricka, $1.1M: Non-tender
- Al Alburquerque, $1.1M: Non-tender
Petricka is probably the toughest call. But he’s been hurt and frankly not good for two years now. The roster spot is probably more valuable than seeing if he’s healthy; especially with Putnam and Jones coming off injuries in the pen. With a bit of a 40 man roster crunch coming, no need to bring back Alburquerque considering his age.
Impending free agents
Sign Chris Iannetta, one year, $5 million.
Iannetta’s framing numbers are a bit all over the place, but he’s been good two of the last three years. He had a bounce back year at the plate in 2017, so a contender might shell out the bucks and/or be more appealing to him. But with such a young staff and a few more young guys on the way next year, having someone who can frame better than Narvaez and Smith would be a good idea. Iannetta only make $1.5 million last year, so this would be a nice pay raise.
Sign Wade Miley, one year, $7 million.
Miley was not good last year. But his issues stemmed from him walking everyone in sight. Coop will fix him! As a lefty who strikes guys out, this might be a good opportunity for everyone: Miley to fix his walk issue, and for the Sox to hope that he pitches well enough to trade in July. I also considered Andrew Cashner, but I think a smart contending team will sign him first. (There's also a decent case the Sox should sign two starters, but I'm going to cross my fingers).
Sign Curtis Granderson, one year, $8 million.
I’m giving away the Avi trade I have dialed up here, but the Sox will need another outfield bat. Granderson checks about every box the Sox could want: old (37), by all accounts is a great guy who could provide some veteran presence, could be flipped in July to a contender, and he’d be able to split time between left, right, and DH. Oh yeah, and he’s from the south burbs. Beat writers are praying for this aren’t they? Granderson might be tougher to sign than I originally thought, he hit about average in the second half. He wouldn’t be blocking anyone, Eloy is the only outfielder I could see being called up next summer and that’d be probably in August or September (unless the Sox want to wait until April 2019). This might be a nice way for Ganderson to go out: a swan song with his hometown team. If he plays his cards right, he’d have a life time job with the Sox too.
No. 1: Trade Avisail Garcia. I’m starting to buy that 2017 Avi was for real: he’s still only 26 and some of his underlying numbers are sustainable. Sure the BABIP will regress, but he might also be figuring it out. Avi doesn't really fit the Sox timeline at this point either: if he goes back to Bad Avi, the Sox are SOL. If he's good Avi, they're going to either have to pay him (doubtful) or let him walk (or get less in return a year from now). If there’s a market for Avi, they should move him.
And it looks like there might actually be a market for Avi this winter. JD Martinez is the biggest FA outfield bat and it looks like Stanton will get moved by the Fish. But there are a number of teams that probably plan on contending next year and need outfielders. Here are a few possibilities with my top choice being…
Blue Jays: Steve Pearce, Sean Reid-Foley, Reese McGuire, and Justin Maese: the Blue Jays could blow it up this winter, but if they don't, Avi makes sense for them. The Sox taking on Pearce's salary (1/$6.25m) to get a bit better of a return. McGuire would have to be put on the 40 man roster but he hit a bit last year in AA (I have no clue what his framing numbers are). Reid-Foley pitched well at 22 in AA and Maese appears to have held his own at 20 in A ball.
Giants for Bryan Reynolds & Garrett Williams: the Giants don’t have an obvious salary for the Sox to take on, nor do they have all that impressive of a farm system. I’m guessing Stanton ends up here.
Mariners for Nick Neidert & Chris Torres: the Mariners are old and if they have a window it’s still open but not for much longer. Avi makes some sense here.
Orioles: Keegan Akin, Jomar Reyes, and Hunter Harvey. Reyes hit pretty well in A+. And Harvey probably is broke, but worth a flyer. The O’s should blow it up, but they won't. And they need outfielders.
Arizona: I think they'll address their outfield in the free agent market.
Braves: This would probably be a complicated deal with the Sox taking back Markakis' contract.
Mets: Because who the eff knows what they're doing?
Yankees: About five things have to happen and the Sox would take on Headley and Gardner's contract... it's highly unlikely but one of those things that if it did happen I'd be surprised but not shocked.
Indians: Depends on what they plan to do with Brantley and Kipnis. And if they bring Bruce back for some reason... I really doubt this one.
Trade No. 2: I’ve kept the Sox salary commitments to about $75 million in 2018. Maybe Jerry and company pocket the savings from here on out. But if they’re willing to take on some salary (up to about $20 million we’ll say) then…
Trade Matt Davidson (or Jacob May or Dylan Convey you get the point) for Adrian Gonzalez and Yusniel Diaz.
There's no room for Gonzalez (36) on the Dodgers and they're are up against the tax. Getting rid of his salary will allow them to either resign Darvish or go after someone else while reducing their tax burden. The Dodgers have a lot of prospects that they could send along with Gonzalez, Gavin Lux and Yusniel Diaz being two that caught my eye. Gonzalez is owed $21.5 million in 2018. He has a partial no-trade clause which might need to be navigated.
Three other contracts the Sox could take on instead:
Hanley Ramirez: 34 and owed $22 million, if Boston wants to do anything in free agency, getting rid of Hanley would help. He has a vesting option if he reaches 1,050 plate appearances in 2017 and 2018 (he had 553 last year, so keeping him under 500 PA would be essential (I hate doing this to guys, but alas)).
Luis Valbuena: He was bad last year and he'd be a mix of Yolmer/Saladino insurance. He is due $8 million, and while that's not a ton of relief for the Angels, assuming they're going hard after pitching, freeing up a few bucks would help them. I could see the Sox DFAing him in the spring.
Hunter Pence: My guess is the Giants are going to keep him. But if they really like Avi and trade for Stanton (and doesn't go to Miami in the deal) there might be some Pence and prospects for Avi deal to be made.
I envision a fairly quiet winter for the Sox. The Avi trade would be the only big move, though I guess a trade taking on salary would be kind of big too. The Sox payroll would be around $95 million under this plan.
Bench: Pearce, Saladino, Engel, Narvaez
5. Rodon (if not back: Fulmer)
4. Fulmer (tbd if in rotation)
6. Fry (yay lefties!)
7. Bummer (yay lefties!)
- The Sox have a number of 40 man roster decisions to make, so keeping around older, meh players who probably can't be moved in the summer nor will be part of the 2020 team isn't worth it.
- I have no clue what to do with Saladino and Davidson. They're both cheap but also a bit older and unlikely to be apart of the 2020 team. I don't expect Davidson to be on the team in February. Saladino is another tough call.
- Jake Peter and Brian Clark would be up sooner rather than later if it were up to me, but for service time reasons, might as well have them start in AAA.