The Red Sox have some money to spend this offseason and I fully expect Chaim Bloom to be heavily involved in the free-agent sweepstakes this winter. Rumors are flying early this year with a potential lockout on the horizon so here is a list of names to look out for with projected contracts and analysis as free agency heats up.
Carlos Correa – SS, Age 27 (#1 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | G: 148 | BA: .279 | 2B: 34 | 3B: 1 | HR: 26 | RBI: 92 | OPS: .850 | bWAR: 7.2
MLBTR Contract Projection: Ten years, $320M
The free-agent market is full of top-tier middle infielders and Carlos Correa is the consensus leader of the pack with Corey Seager right behind him. The only reason I have Correa as a player to watch is purely because of his relationship with Alex Cora. Fangraphs has a more modest median crowdsource estimate of eight years, $240M but I don’t see that happening. If this contract is accurate, it is possible that Correa ends up in Boston.
Rumors are swirling of a reunion with former manager A.J. Hinch in Detriot, I don’t quite get the appeal but if they offer the money it could happen.
Corey Seager – SS, Age 28 (#2 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | G: 95 | BA: .306 | 2B: 22 | 3B: 3 | HR: 16 | RBI: 57 | OPS: .915 | bWAR: 3.7
MLBTR Contract Projection: Ten years, $305M
Pretty much everybody on the planet has already started photoshopping Corey Seager in pinstripes. It makes sense, a left-handed shortstop with incredible tools that will demand a contract most teams cannot afford. He’s the perfect fit for the New York Yankees.
However, Kyle Schwarber balanced the lineup perfectly when he was added at the deadline. Seager could bat second behind Kiké Hernández without creating the defensive rearrangements Schwarber caused. Having an elite left-handed hitter up the middle would make this lineup one of the most balanced in the league.
Seager is somewhat injury prone and his play is likely to decline before the end of his projected contact for that reason. However, he is reportedly looking to sign early and Boston could potentially throw a short-term contract his way with a higher average annual value (AAV) than expected. Seager is the least likely to end up in a Red Sox uniform but I just had to throw his name into the mix.
Marcus Semien – 2B, Age 31 (#6 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | G: 162 | BA: .265 | 2B: 39 | 3B: 2 | HR: 45 | RBI: 102 | OPS: .873 | bWAR: 7.3
MLBTR Contract Projection: Six years, $138M
I’ve written about Marcus Semien multiple times already this offseason. Semien is without a doubt my top free-agent target for the Boston Red Sox this winter. His projected contracts are all over the place but are all within reason given his age.
Semien is a plus defender, which the Red Sox are sorely in need of. His switch to second base will make it a lot easier to keep the current Red Sox alignment while improving in both phases of the game. Offensively, Semien is by far the most dangerous second baseman in the game. In 2021 Semien broke the record for most home runs as a second baseman.
I don’t think there is another individual move that could improve the team as much as adding Semien this winter. Just to add icing on the cake, you also take away one of the top bats from a rising Toronto Blue Jays team. If I’m Chaim Bloom I’m aiming for a short-term deal with a high AAV. Something around the ballpark of three years, $75M would be a perfect deal for both sides. MLBTR’s projection of six years sounds off but could be accurate with opt-outs in place.
Trevor Story – SS, Age 29 (#8 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | G: 142 | BA: .251 | 2B: 34 | 3B: 5 | HR: 24 | RBI: 75 | OPS: .801 | bWAR: 4.2
MLBTR Contract Projection: Six years, $126M
Trevor Story is another player the Red Sox should heavily pursue this offseason. If Chaim Bloom targets both Semien and Story, I like his odds of landing a premier middle infielder for a reasonable contract, unlike the one’s Correa and Seager will be offered.
Story has a rocket of an arm and profiles as a shortstop. I’m not one of the people demanding Xander Bogaerts to switch positions but with Devers securely at third base, I wouldn’t be entirely opposed in this situation.
Story will be a great defender wherever he ends up and a middle-of-the-order hitter. I could see Story taking advantage of the Green Monster much like Hunter Renfroe has in his short time as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
The former Rockies shortstop had a down year in 2021, hitting .251 with 24 home runs, 75 RBI’s, and 20 stolen bases (not bad for a down year). Story is a career .272 hitter with 35+ home run power and speed that the current lineup lacks. He really hit his stride at 25-years-old (2018), as you can see here:
Due to the ridiculous shortstop market this winter, Story will likely receive a manageable contract, in the $20-25M per year range. I could foresee the Red Sox making a similar deal to J.D. Martinez’s contract of five years, $110M with multiple opt-outs.
If you want to see my opinion on Semien vs Story in just a couple of concise paragraphs, you can check out this article by Over the Monster on the Red Sox number one winter priority. My thoughts are the first, so you don’t even have to scroll.
Max Scherzer – SP, Age 37 (#9 MLBTR)
2021 Stat | W/L: 15-4 | ERA: 2.46 | K: 236 | BB: 36 | WHIP: 0.864 | IP: 179.1 | fWAR: 5.4
MLBTR Contract Projection: Three years, $120M
I went by MLBTR to rank these free agents purely for convenience purposes. While they have Max Scherzer at #9, Fangraphs has him at #4 and that seems just as fair. I’ve read the comments, every time I mention anything related to the offseason I am swarmed by “we need pitching” comments. I guarantee you plenty of people will skim by this paragraph and say the same. I get it, but in the new era of baseball, I find position players more valuable.
The Red Sox made it to the ALCS with subpar pitching and got beat by a team who had an even stronger offense than them. I would love Max Scherzer on the Red Sox, but I don’t see Bloom signing multiple high-end contracts and the Red Sox need a star middle infielder to improve the defense and give their current pitchers a chance.
The Red Sox do have a lot of money coming off the books next offseason after clearing about $30M this winter. I say this because it is possible that Bloom is willing to make an unexpected splash, especially considering Scherzer seems to have some affinity for Boston. The Red Sox were one of eight teams that Max Scherzer revoked his no-trade clause for at the 2021 trade deadline. The Yankees were left off his list (that part is irrelevant but still funny to me).
Scherzer wants to join a contender, which would put the Red Sox into the mix. Once you take out teams who can’t afford Scherzer, the list of suiters dwindles even further. The Dodgers are the heavy favorite to retain Scherzer but the Red Sox will be involved.
MLBTR’s projected contract is absolutely crazy, Ben Clemens of Fangraphs estimates two years, $75M which sounds more accurate. Three years, $90M is possible but there is no way a 37-year-old gets an AAV of $40M for three seasons.
Eduardo Rodríguez – SP, Age 29 (#14 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | W/L: 13-8 | ERA: 4.74 | K: 185 | BB: 47 | WHIP: 1.389 | IP: 157.1 | fWAR: 3.8
MLBTR Contract Projection: Five years, $70M
The Red Sox should do what they can to retain Rodríguez, who is a young, talented pitcher that was killed by a combination of bad defense and bad luck in 2021. My full explanation of how badly Rodríguez was screwed over by game-level stats is in my article on the 2022 Boston Red Sox Free Agents.
“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.”Read More
I have already covered the topic of re-signing Eduardo Rodríguez. However, now that contract projections are rolling in there is more to write. This MLBTR projection looks to be insane as well. Clemens or Fangraphs threw out a projection of four years, $80M, and that to me is right on the nose.
I believe Rodríguez would be more than willing to return but there have already been multiple rumored suiters coming to the forefront. The Angels plan on being aggressive to acquire pitching this winter and Rodríguez is rumored to be towards the top of their list. The Tigers have shown early interest in the southpaw according to MLB Network and the Twins have been rumored as well.
The good news is that the Red Sox have already offered Rodríguez a multi-year offer on top of their qualifying offer (one year, $18.4M). Bloom has also been open about his interest in bringing back Rodríguez.
Kyle Schwarber – OF/1B?, Age 29 (#15 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | G: 113 | BA: .266 | 2B: 19 | 3B: 0 | HR: 32 | RBI: 71 | OPS: .928 | bWAR: 3.2
MLBTR Contract Projection: Four years, $70M
My general take is that I would bring Schwarber back as long as we are also going to acquire a middle infielder in the Semien/Story tier. Without a substantial upgrade elsewhere, our defense would get even worse by adding Schwarber. With Semien/Story plus Schwarber, the Red Sox would be able to sustain an elite offense even with inevitable injuries.
The left-handed power slugger did turn a corner in 2021 and will have plenty of free agent interest. Not only did his new approach play extremely well for the Red Sox but Alex Cora even said that his presence has led to a lower chase rate for the team as a whole.
He was very active in offensive team meetings and helped the teams approach to hitting. Between Schwarber and Martinez, the Red Sox will have the best hitting coaches in baseball regardless of the actual open coaching vacancy.
The good news is that Bloom, Cora, and Schwarber are all open to a reunion. Here is what Kyle Schwarber had to say when asked about returning to Boston:
“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
Carlos Rodón – SP, Age 29 (#18 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | W/L: 13-5 | ERA: 2.37 | K: 185 | BB: 36 | WHIP: 0.957 | IP: 132.2 | fWAR: 4.9
MLBTR Contract Projection: One year, $25M
Carlos Rodón is one of the most intriguing free agents this winter. His season numbers are remarkable but the White Sox star ran out of gas in August, citing arm soreness as the reason for his absence for a couple of weeks. There was no significant injury found after more tests, and he finished the season strong. Rodón pitched 18 innings in September, making all four starts with an even 2.00 ERA and a 22/5 K/BB ratio.
What’s strange is that the White Sox decided not to bring back the southpaw and did not even send a qualifying offer his way. The White Sox are either being extremely cheap or know something about Rodón that other teams do not. His career has been quite shaky but his 2021 season warranted a qualifying offer at the very least.
Every team will have a different opinion on Rodón and it will be nearly impossible to project what offers will come in for the lefty. Adding a pitcher of Rodón’s caliber without giving up a draft pick is super enticing. Some may consider him an injury risk but his production is worth the risk.
Seiya Suzuki – OF, Age 27 (#20 MLBTR)
2021 Stats (NPB)* | G: 131 | BA: .319 | 2B: 26 | 3B: 0 | HR: 38 | RBI: 88 | OPS: 1.079 | bWAR: N/A
MLBTR Contract Projection: Five years, $55M
A young corner outfielder out of Japan named Suzuki wearing #51, why do I feel like that’s worked out in the past? There is no relation to Ichiro and Seiya brings a different skill set to the table. Suzuki is finishing out his final season in Japan before being posted this winter (NPB season ends on November 21st).
Suzuki is known as a ‘slugger’ but has an even strikeout to walk rate, which is promising. It’s quite difficult to project how foreign baseball players will translate to the majors, which is why Suzuki will be more affordable than his corner outfield peers. Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber are expected to receive more lucrative contracts.
There are so many corner outfield options in free agency that I do think the Red Sox add at least one quality player. If Schwarber does not return, Bloom will likely go for a diamond in the rough. It’s more probable that the Red Sox will find a more inexpensive option but Suzuki had built real hype that will only grow this winter.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox have “thoroughly” scouted Seiya Suzuki. Now, this is surely due diligence but it is good to know that if the price is right, the Red Sox front office will be actively involved.
Some other outfielders to pay attention to are Mark Canha, Michael Conforto, and Jorge Soler.
Justin Verlander – SP, Age 39 (#23 MLBTR)
2021 Stats | N/A (Tommy John Surgery)
MLBTR Contract Projection: Two years, $40M
Not many 39-year-olds that have pitched six innings in the last two years can garner the attention Justin Verlander has. By all accounts Verlander’s showcase went well and with 15-20 teams reportedly in attendance, you can expect rumors to swirl surrounding the former MVP and two-time Cy Young Award winner.
When asked about Verlander, Chaim Bloom said:
“Age might affect the term you consider, but if the present ability is there, why wouldn’t you be interested?”Chaim Bloom
At first, this quote caught my eye and made me excited about the possibility of Verlander in the Red Sox rotation. However, there are a couple of problems that could derail that reality.
First, Verlander stated that he wants to play until he’s 45-years-old, and Astros owner Jim Crane claims Verlander is looking for a “contract of some length.” Now, Verlander obviously is not looking for a six-year deal, but I can’t imagine Bloom will offer the contract length Verlander is searching for.
The biggest issue is that the Astros gave Verlander a qualifying offer. It looks like his time in Houston is over but that means he would cost his new team a high-end draft choice. Now, I’m not in Chaim Bloom’s head but forfeting a top draft pick for a 39-year-old goes against everything he’s preached since day one. Sustained success is the goal and I would tend to agree with Bloom in this instance (and most others).
Now I completely left relief pitchers off of this list. There are a few enticing options: Kendall Graveman, Corey Knebel, Mark Melancon, Ryan Tepera, Kirby Yates, and maybe even old friend Joe Kelly. I didn’t even try to guess on relief pitchers with Chaim Bloom at the helm because I know how many people will come out of the bullpen in 2022 that most people have never heard of. Somehow, most of those guys will produce too.
Scott Boras revealed that ownership told J.D. Martinez they plan to be even more competitive next season so it’ll be interesting to see how they approach this loaded free-agent class.