The Boston Red Sox fell just short of their fifth World Series appearance this century. They went from the fourth-worst team in baseball in 2020 to the fourth team left standing in 2021. This offseason will be a massive opportunity for Chaim Bloom. He will enter his first offseason with a proven contender to build on. It will be interesting to see if Bloom exceeds the luxury tax.
The 2022 Luxury Tax stands at $210M. Spotrac.com estimates that the Red Sox will be around $175M after arbitration. If you take out the club options of Richards, Peréz, and Andriese, the Red Sox luxury tax payroll stands at $155.5M. That would leave Chaim Bloom with an estimated $54.5M to work with while remaining under the luxury tax threshold.
Given that the luxury tax basically allows for a three-year window of elite contention before serious penalties are in play, I would be fine with Bloom staying under the tax threshold. Staying under essentially extends the Red Sox playoff window for another year.
A lot of people are saying that Bloom is trying to make the Red Sox Tampa Bay North, and I hope he does. Why? Well, because an organization with the player development of Tampa Bay and the resources of a city like Boston already exists. That team would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a 634-399 record since former Rays’ Director of Baseball Development, Andrew Friedman, took over the organization. They have won 106 games in their last two full seasons with a 43-17 COVID season that ended with a World Series Championship blanketed in between.
* All ages listed below are for the 2022 season
OF/DH J.D. Martinez
AGE: 34 | BA: .286 | 2B: 42 | 3B: 3 | HR: 28 | RBI: 99 | OPS: .867 | bWAR: 3.0
Martinez will once again enter an offseason with a player option. Martinez is set to make $19.35M in 2022 should he decide to remain in Boston. The potential of the MLB adopting a universal designated hitter could sway Martinez to test free agency. However, Martinez appears to love this team and will likely return fresh off of an unexpected deep playoff run.
I know plenty of fans out there were frustrated by Martinez’s second-half performance and inability to hold up against sliders away. However, Martinez showed just how valuable he really is hitting .344 with 3 HR and 10 RBI’s on a bad ankle this postseason. The Red Sox need his bat in the middle of the order.
OF/1B Kyle Schwarber
AGE: 29 | BA: .266 | 2B: 19 | 3B: 0 | HR: 32 | RBI: 71 | OPS: .928 | bWAR: 3.2
Kyle Schwarber was held to just 113 games due to a lingering hamstring injury that derailed what could have been his best statistical season overall.
Schwarber has an $11M mutual option for 2022. That means both the team and the player must agree to that contract. After the season Kyle Schwarber just had, he is almost guaranteed to decline the option and test free agency. However, he has made his feelings about Boston clear following the ALCS loss.
“This is a World Series clubhouse,” Schwarber said. “I would love to see if there’s an opportunity to come back.”Kyle Schwarber via NESN
Kyle Schwarber was exactly who the 2021 team needed to boost their lineup and improve the team’s hitting philosophy. If Boston could retain the slugger, that would create a slightly awkward team construction, but that is a problem worth having to keep his bat in the lineup. With Tristan Casas on the rise, we could see a trade of Bobby Dalbec and/or Jarren Duran if Schwarber returns.
SP Eduardo Rodríguez
AGE: 29 | W/L: 13-8 | ERA: 4.74 | K: 185 | BB: 47 | WHIP: 1.389 | IP: 157.1 | fWAR: 3.8
Eduardo Rodríguez had quite an inconsistent season in his contract year. He was statistically one of the most unlucky pitchers in baseball in 2021 and still found a way to come through in the postseason.
E-Rod had a FIP of 3.32, sixth among American League Pitchers with 100 IP or more. FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) is a stat to determine pitchers’ effectiveness on plays in his control. In other words, his defense and well-placed singles let him down. Also, Rodríguez had his highest career K/9 (10.56) and lowest career BB/9 (2.68). These numbers all indicate a much more successful season for Rodríguez in 2022.
His bumpy road may help Boston retain his services, which I would expect to happen. Rodríguez has spent his entire MLB career in Boston, and like many of his teammates, has a strong relationship with Cora. I couldn’t even give a guess as to what his next contract will look like, but I hope John Henry is the one to sign it.
C Christian Vázquez
AGE: 31 | BA: .258 | 2B: 23 | 3B: 1 | HR: 6 | RBI: 49 | OPS: .659 | bWAR: 1.0
Vázquez had a down year in terms of overall production. He also appeared to lead the team in mental mistakes on the base path (though Verdugo gave him a run for his money).
Vázquez has a $7M club option for 2022 which I would imagine will be accepted without much thought. He has not exactly been a superstar, but the only real upgrade in free agency would be Mike Zunino. Hopefully, Vázquez will hit the weight room to get back to his 2019 form where he hit .276 with 23 home runs.
RP Adam Ottavino
AGE: 36 | W/L: 7-3 | ERA: 4.21 | K: 71 | BB: 35 | WHIP: 1.452 | IP: 62 | fWAR: 0.5
Ottavino had his ups and downs but was one of the best overall bullpen pieces for Alex Cora. I would like to see Ottavino back, but won’t be distraught if he leaves.
His 4.21 ERA does not do his production justice this season. With Matt Barnes completely burning out, Ottavino picked up the slack and ended the season with 11 saves. I like the idea of having a late-inning reliever that is comfortable in save situations should the closer be unable to take the ball.
SP Garrett Richards
AGE: 34 | W/L: 7-8 | ERA: 4.87 | K: 115 | BB: 60 | WHIP: 1.595 | IP: 136.2 | fWAR: 1.0
Richards has a $10M club option for 2022. After going 7-8 with a 4.87 ERA, there is no chance Chaim Bloom accepts that option. Richards had some big moments in relief towards the end of the season, but his overall performance did not meet expectations. He’ll have a chance to rebound in 2022 but it will not be in Boston.
SP Martín Pérez
AGE: 31 | W/L: 7-8 | ERA: 4.74 | K: 97 | BB: 36 | WHIP: 1.509 | IP: 114 | fWAR: 0.6
Pérez has a $6M club option for 2022. His storyline is almost the same as Richards. Both players were taken out of the rotation and moved into the bullpen. Pérez even has numbers that mirror Richards, going 7-8 with a 4.74 ERA.
The difference is that Richards at least found a way to provide some value in his new role. Pérez was in a purely mop-up role and failed anytime he was relied upon out of the bullpen, especially in the postseason.
I highly doubt Chaim Bloom brings Pérez back next season, especially considering that he was a late addition to the 2021 squad. It appeared as if Bloom was hesitant to re-sign Pérez before the 2021 season and will be even more reluctant this offseason.
RP Hansel Robles
AGE: 31 | W/L: 3-5 | ERA: 4.43 | K: 76 | BB: 37 | WHIP: 1.377 | IP: 69 | fWAR: 0.1
I really don’t know how to feel about Robles. Towards the end of the season, I actually started trusting Robles to get the job done in high-leverage situations. At the same time, I’ve never seen a player miss the zone by so much consistently. He has an electric arm but can be completely wild at any moment.
Robles had a 3.60 ERA in 25 innings with the Red Sox and finished the regular season strong. His postseason was inconsistent but he did have some important holds, including in the 8th inning of the Wild Card game. If Bloom can bring back Robles as a middle relief option, great. As a set-up/closer role? No thank you.
SS/2B José Iglesias
AGE: 32 | BA: .271 | 2B: 27 | 3B: 2 | HR: 9 | RBI: 48 | OPS: .701 | bWAR: -0.6
I’m quite torn on José Iglesias entering free agency. On one hand, Iglesias hit .356 with six extra-base hits and seven runs batted in across 23 games down the stretch. He seems like a great fit with the team and helped drag the Red Sox into the postseason.
On the other hand, if Iglesias is back I would assume that means Bloom did not make a major splash on offense. An Iglesias/Arroyo second base platoon would be solid, but Marcus Semien is entering free agency coming off of a season where he hit 45 home runs with 102 RBI’s.
I’d like to see the Red Sox make a splash to improve their middle infield. I’d love a José Iglesias reunion in a vacuum but hate what it would mean for the lack of aggressiveness to improve the lineup.
1B Travis Shaw
AGE: 32 | BA: .200 | 2B: 11 | 3B: 0 | HR: 9 | RBI: 39 | OPS: .659 | bWAR: -0.6
Travis Shaw always has a spot on any team I’m in charge of. Unfortunately, I have not taken over the Red Sox personnel decisions just yet, and it looks murky for Shaw in Boston.
I could maybe see Shaw on a prove-it contract with a Spring Training invite, but that’s about it. Dalbec is here, Schwarber could return, and Tristan Casas is the PED-free version of Barry Bonds (slight exaggeration). In all likelihood, Shaw will sign with a team that needs some corner-infield depth.
UTL Danny Santana
AGE: 31 | BA: .181 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 1 | HR: 5 | RBI: 14 | OPS: .597 | bWAR: -0.3
The best thing Danny Santana could do for the Boston Red Sox moving forward would be to sign with a division rival, preferably on a long-term deal. Versatility is great, switch-hitting is cool, and Cora seemed to like Santana, but his -0.3 WAR proves his lack of actual value for this team. I could see Santana finding his rare combination of power and speed again, but not with the Red Sox.
The rest of the listed free agents are not worth writing about. The remaining group of Brice, Motter, Peacock, and Herrmann would be nothing more than organizational depth. Barring another COVID outbreak, I think we can live without them.
Here is the full list of 2022 Boston Red Sox Free Agents Recapped:
- OF/DH J.D. Martinez*
- OF/1B Kyle Schwarber*
- SP Eduardo Rodríguez
- C Christian Vázquez*
- RP Adam Ottavino
- SP Garrett Richards*
- SP Martín Pérez*
- RP Hansel Robles
- SS/2B José Iglesias
- 1B Travis Shaw
- UTL Danny Santana
- RP Austin Brice
- SP Brad Peacock
- UTL Taylor Motter
- C Chris Herrmann
* Indicates a Player, Mutual, or Club Option