The Boston Red Sox have several notable players who will enter the free agent sweepstakes after the 2019 season. What is the early power ranking for MLB?
How far into the Red Sox baseball future do you wish to travel? On our time travels we will not meet any Morlocks, but something far more terrifying to Red Sox fans and that is the free agent list after the 2019 season is complete.
The bad news – and it is most certainly bad news – is the Red Sox have three players ranked in the top ten of the projected list by mlbtraderumors. Can bad news get into full-fledged panic mode? In this instance, it most certainly can with the first two spots on the list designated sole property of Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale. The last is dependent upon a magical insertion into the contract of J.D. Martinez – an opt-out. Martinez is listed in the seventh spot.
The warning with the list is obvious and that is performance. A bad break with an injury or just plain lousy season can have the money bags empty fairly quickly – just ask Drew Pomeranz. And change can happen even during the season when both sides have a moment of clarity and decide they cannot separate and a new contract is pressed into service with all hands on deck smiling ear to ear.
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Bogaerts is sitting potentially on the best possible windfall. Young and talented with a pair of Silver Slugger Awards, an All-Star selection, two World Series rings, and 23 home runs with 103 RBI in 2018. If Bogaerts duplicates that scenario and matches his 4.9 fWAR and sundry of other metrics then the Red Sox may have a Marianas Trench hole at short.
The natural comparison is to the $300M contract that Manny Machado recently signed. Will Bogaerts match that figure? That is a tempting target for Bogaerts and his agent Scott Boras. The mention of the name Boras is similar to a week of root canals without attendant pain relievers.
With the Machado template expect Boras to run off that to maximize years and dollars for his client – that is the Boras way and it will be painful to watch from a fan perspective. Conceivable Bogaerts and Boras tandem could sign for ten years and $250M, but that is all in the domain of an expected repeat performance or even an acceleration of those numbers.
Sale is a more problematic free agent since the baseball evaluation jury is awaiting a close examination of his performance based on a possible shoulder issue. Last season that shoulder had as much attention as a pinup gal from World War II. If Sale has some significant downtime expect another down to follow – contract length and price.
If Sale returns to his usual form meaning being one of the premier hurlers in the game then the Red Sox will be faced with another member of the $30M a year club. Sale could conceivably match the contract of fellow lefty David Price and the years will stretch well into the next decade.
The last is Martinez and his current five-year and $110M contract to provide a big missing ingredient in the Red Sox lineup – a right-hand power bat, but not just any bat. JDM is not some home run hitting all or nothing slug – the .330 batting average shows a bundle more. Martinez became the catalyst or the assumption is he became the catalyst for a rejuvenated Red Sox run production.
Will he or won’t he may be an ongoing storyline for 2019. If Martinez continues on his hell-bent desire to mutilate baseballs and inflate earned run averages the quaint term of “maximizing” will undoubtedly surface. The money will be enticing.
Maybe it is time to get my magical 8-Ball a turn or two and decide just what will happen? The easy pick is Martinez unless someone wishes to drop an eight-year contract in his lap. The Red Sox can certainly add some sweetener and I don’t mean Sweet & Low, but real sugar as in dollars. This contract is in place and can be tweaked.
Bogaerts and Sale are gone. Not 100% sure-fire gone, but the money is a real issue with both and especially Bogaerts. With Sale, the issue circulates around a tender shoulder and that will be a warning sign that would take up the south side of the Pru. If Sale tosses 190+ innings with his usual splendid results the Red Sox management could be in the proverbial PR pickle, but management has never been shy about going in another direction.
With both Sale and Bogaerts there is some degree of financial flexibility within the roster, but just how much before that dastardly luxury tax rears its ugly fiscal head? That said, management may just say they will consider the LT as a replacement for money tossed away on Pablo Sandoval who will be off the books.
The good news is we collectively have a summer to cause anxiety and a rush on Xanax as the season progresses and more information surfaces. And we can always worry about the eventual Mookie Betts contract that might equal Sale and Bogaerts combined. One thing is for sure, just like 7-11, the business may be slow but the Red Sox front office is never closed.