The Boston Red Sox finally agreed to terms (again) with the Dodgers to deal Mookie Betts and David Price. I think Pete Blackburn recapped the deal perfectly:
Well said, Pete. In a turn of events, the Red Sox will now have some money to play with to fill out the roster. As it stands now, the Red Sox do not have a full rotation. Sale, Rodriguez, and Eovaldi will return, and Martin Perez will become the fourth starter. The number has ranged as of late but the Red Sox are somewhere between $16M-$18M under the luxury tax. I have suggestions to round out he 2020 roster that will fight hard for another third-place finish.
Salazar was an important piece for the Cleveland Indians’ pitching staff during their peak years of contention recently. The now 30-year-old, right-handed pitcher will look to find a home elsewhere. Salazar has been quite injury prone, but is also quite talented. Salazar did not pitch in 2018 and only recorded four innings in 2019 due to a myriad of health issues. However, when healthy Salazar is a quality middle of the rotation pitcher. The Red Sox do not have the option to be picky, and Salazar is a valuable player when healthy. He has a career 3.82 ERA and an All-Star appearance under his belt. Salazar is a hit-or-miss player, but he can be signed for cheap with plenty of upside.
Walker is a much more appealing option than Salazar. While I believe Salazar is a more talented pitcher, Walker is only 27-years-old. Walker averages a 94 MPH fastball and has a career ERA of 3.95. The former Diamondback received Tommy John Surgery in 2018 and was sidelined until the season finale of 2019. He pitched one inning, averaging a 93.3 MPH fastball in that appearance.
On Tuesday, Walker held a workout for scouts where he sat around 85-88 MPH, which is concerning. That said, Walker will have time to get back to full strength and could help this club out in what could be a comeback season for the talented right-handed pitcher. Walker is another cheap option that could help round out the rotation. I believe the Red Sox should sign both players, as neither option will approach 200 innings in all likelihood. Combine that with the injury history of Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi, and we are looking at quantity over quality for the 2020 pitching depth.
Cashner coming back to Boston is not going to get the fans excited. Unfortunately, his 2.69 WAR is the highest of the remaining free agents. He struggled mightily in Boston and absolutely murdered his season stats. Cashner posted quality numbers with the Baltimore Orioles. He had a 3.83 ERA in 96.1 IP before being dealt to the Red Sox. Once Cora realized Cashner gave up more home runs than a batting practice thrower, he moved to the bullpen. In the bullpen, Cashner had a 3.86 ERA in 23.1 IP. Cashner is not the most enticing player, but he is a durable pitcher that could provide safer depth than Salazar or Walker – two players that could get hurt in the clubhouse.
While pitching is by far the biggest concern for the Red Sox, outfield depth could become an issue as well. With Mookie headed to the Dodgers, Bradley Jr., Benintendi and Verdugo look to rove around the outfield with J.D. Martinez as an emergency option.
A player that could drastically improve our outfield is Kevin Pillar. A fan favorite in Toronto, Pillar is nicknamed “Superman” because he is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. Pillar is one of the toughest players in the sport and could largely benefit from joining a rotation of outfielders. If you look through his baseball reference page, he looks fairly durable. While he does not miss many games, Pillar takes a lot of damage diving around in the outfield. Not being depended on to be in the lineup everyday could help his overall production. In 2019 Pillar hit .259 with 37 2B, 21 HR, 88 RBI’s, and 14 SB. He is a premier outfielder and could replace Jackie Bradley Jr. during the inevitable fire sale come July. He might even have his own value if he can carve out a role on the team.
Overall, these players could help make the 2020 season a little less miserable. They also could all help rebuild the Red Sox farm system if they can produce enough to be worthy of a trade. These one-year deals could really make next season much more enjoyable.