If the Red Sox are to bounce back in 2020 amid tightened payroll and possible trade losses, five team members need to take their game up a notch.
The Boston Red Sox seek a return to the playoffs after an uneventful 2019. They will give it a go with one hand tied behind their bean counter’s back. Ownership’s alleged mandate to get thrifty and squeeze taxable team payroll below $208 million likely means trading away one or two key players. It’s all part of new Chief of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom shuffling the deck while cutting costs.
Various trade scenarios presented in recent weeks by baseball experts have pegged the likes of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Chris Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi as candidates to be wearing different uniforms in 2020. J.D. Martinez has been mentioned at times as well, and there’s always the chance other Red Sox players enter the trade picture as add-ons in order to get deals done.
Imagine a World Series scenario next October in which Eovaldi is slated to start Game 3 with Betts batting leadoff and playing right field . . . for the St. Louis Cardinals. That would be the result of a multi-player deal envisioned by ESPN’s David Schoenfield, in which the Red Sox get a package of four players led by lefty depth reliever Brett Cecil and RF/INF Tommy Edman (.304 BA, 11 HR, 15 SB, .850 OPS in 92 games in 2019).
This is shaping up to be a Red Sox team with three or four new starters on the field (first base, second base, and one or two in the outfield), one or two new starting pitchers, one or two new relievers, and a new backup catcher.
In making those changes, this could end up being a team with reduced star power, cheaper fill-ins for certain roles, and an expectation that some team members left behind will have to step up their games. This is so the Red Sox can advance beyond last season’s 84 wins while making up ground on the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.