Expect more Boston Red Sox moves, starting by signing Brock Holt

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 05: Brock Holt #12 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 05, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Red Sox 15-8. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 05: Brock Holt #12 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 05, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Red Sox 15-8. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The trade of Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers cuts $43 million of Red Sox payroll, creating budget room for Chaim Bloom to plug remaining gaps.

Now that the long-anticipated trade of Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers is finally over, Boston Red Sox fans can settle in and get ready for the 2020 season knowing where things stand. Well, sort of. The roster tweaking probably isn’t finished, and there’s also the matter of hiring a new manager.

One difference afforded, literally, by the Betts/Price trade is that Red Sox Baseball Chief Chaim Bloom has fiscal breathing room in which to operate. Look for him to acquire at least one more player, if not two or three, on the cheap in the coming days or weeks and still have change left over to accommodate in-season trades.

Start by re-signing Brock Holt. Now. (We’ll come back to Brockstar in a jif.)

By shedding Betts’ $27 million salary and half of Price’s $32 million, as reported by the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, $43 million gets whacked from the team’s taxable payroll for 2020. That takes it down to about $189 million, safely satisfying ownership’s “goal” (i.e., mandate) of getting below the $208 million threshold to reset the team’s competitive balance tax rate at zero – with almost $20 million of wiggle room.

With Price now out of Dennis Eckersley’s hair and gone from the starting rotation (and headed to the land of sun and sand, where ‘yuck’ has no place in the vocabulary of the beautiful people), Bloom once again needs a fifth starter. The Sox went through a similar deal earlier this offseason when Rick Porcello exited via free agency, soon followed by the free-agent signing of left-hander Martin Perez, formerly of the Minnesota Twins. Now Bloom gets to do the same drill all over again. Fun. Just like in the army.

Price’s departure leaves Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Perez as the four starters, with no apparent in-house candidate primed and prepared for promotion to the No. 5 spot. Ryan Weber? I like him, but nah. Hector Velazquez? Not this time: wouldn’t be prudent.

One possibility down the (short) road is 21-year-old right-hander Brusdar Graterol, acquired from the Twins as part of ruby Tuesday’s three-team Betts/Price deal. Graterol is an intriguing option with a 100-plus MPH sinker to go with a slider and changeup, although he likely needs two or three months of fine-tuning at Pawtucket to be fully MLB-ready, either as a starter or reliever.

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One interesting angle about Graterol that awaits a Fort Myers eye test is just how big a guy he is. The Twins’ 2019 40-man roster at both MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com have the 6-1 righty pegged at 265 pounds; the Red Sox 2020 40-man roster at ESPN.com says he weighs . . . 180. We can only assume either that Graterol has found a weight-loss program soon to be the envy of keto dieters across America, or whoever typed in his Red Sox roster data needs remedial Typing 101. In any event, Boston-area tailors should be fighting among themselves to get his cell number.

OK, where does that leave the Sox? Although Chaim hasn’t asked me (yet) for my two cents, I’m going to suggest moves to plug holes and get a complete 26-man roster in place for Opening Day. I base these signings on a quick check of the MLB.com list of remaining unsigned 2019-2020 free agents. (You’re welcome to look for yourself and see if you can do better.). Here goes:

1. Sign the Brockstar. Immediately. It’s a no-brainer. Holt is 32 and should have at least two good seasons left as a super-utility guy, good for something in the range of .270/.330/.380. He can start some at second base, maybe to platoon there with Jose Peraza (with Michael Chavis also in the mix); give Rafael Devers an occasional rest at third base; and take the burden of being the fourth outfielder off of J.D. Martinez’s iffy back.

The clubhouse needs Holt, the greater Boston community wants him, the fans love him, and he’s good with media. His return would help offset the loss of Betts in terms of fan favorites. The expansion to a 26-man roster makes this work and you can still go with eight relievers. Next . .

2. Sign righty free-agent starters Clay Buchholz and Andrew Cashner. Both of them. On the really cheap, maybe minor-league deals. This is not about favoritism and teary Red Sox reunions – it’s strictly gap-plugging business. Look again at that remaining free-agent list and you tell me which other starter you would sign instead.

Let Bucky and Andy battle it out for the fifth spot. There’s a chance Cashner has worked out the pitching bugs that apparently bit him while making his dismal 2019 mid-season transition from Baltimore’s badlands to Boston’s 24-hour sauna. He’s a decent bet for a 2020 rebound.

3. Sign reliever Sam Dyson, most recently of the Twins. He’s probably not a closer candidate – the Sox should be OK there with Brandon Workman. Maybe Dyson’s not quite good enough to push Matt Barnes out of the primary eighth-inning setup role, but he could bolster the bullpen nicely as a middle/seventh-inning reliever.

Before going from the San Francisco Giants to the Twins late in 2019, Dyson posted a 2.47 ERA, 0.902 WHIP and dazzling 6.71 SO/W ratio in 51 innings of relief for the Giants. In 2018, Dyson’s respective numbers were 2.69/1.081/2.80 in 70.1 innings. He’s a workhorse, and any reliever who can put together two or more consecutive decent years is worth a look.

Red Sox are a disgrace for trading Mookie Betts in salary dump. dark. Next

That’s it. Bloom should be able to do all that without committing more than about $10 million of 2020 payroll, leaving $8-10 million for an in-season move or two (if needed). Don’t rule out another spring trade, either. Opening Day is almost two months away – that’s plenty of time.