Red Sox can find a pitching solution in Blake Snell
We’re weeks removed from the World Series and are firmly entrenched in the 2021 free agency window. For the last two seasons, the Red Sox have been plagued with numerous issues in regards to their pitching staff. From injuries, departures, and just overall lackluster outings, Boston has run the gamut as far as their pitching woes are concerned, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Red Sox Nation recently got some good news as Chris Sale now has a target of the summer for his return and Eduardo Rodriguez has a clean bill of health and is on target for Opening Day. With that said, as of now, Boston will be without Martin Perez as they declined his option and he is now a free agent. Nathan Eovaldi will be back and we’ll also likely see the full-time additions of Tanner Houck and Nick Pivetta to the rotation, but as Yoda once said, “there is another.”
Yesterday evening MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the reigning American League champions would be open to listening to offers for lefty ace Blake Snell. This comes on the heels of the Rays pulling Snell in Game 6 as he was pitching an absolute gem, a game they would lose, along with the World Series. Could there be some sort of rift between the former Cy Young winner and his club after that decision was made? Possibly, but that’d be pure speculation and we’re not here to do that.
Let’s take a look at what the southpaw has done over the last few seasons. In 2018, he led the entire Majors in wins (21) and H/9 (5.6), while leading the AL in ERA (1.89) and ERA+ (217). He also took home the Cy Young, ERA Title and was named to the All-Star team.
He would have a down year in 2019 and pitched in nearly 70 fewer innings than he had the season prior. His 2020 campaign was another strong effort finishing 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA during the COVID shortened year.
What does the possibility of Snell hitting the trading block mean for the Red Sox? Well, the obvious is that Chaim Bloom could use the relationship he has with his former club to work out a deal that benefits both sides. Tampa has been built on prospects and young talent, which Boston doesn’t have too many of, but they may have the right ones. Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec have proven to be MLB caliber young players that could catch the eye of the Rays.
Chaim could also dig into the farm system and offer up someone in the realm of a Bryan Mata, Jay Groome, or Thad Ward. All three are in Boston’s Top-10 as far as prospects are concerned and two of which are on the current 40-man roster. To get a pitcher the level of Snell in return, Bloom will have to dig deep into his developmental toy bag to entice Tampa to keep the veteran in the AL East.
Speaking of the AL East, in my eyes that’ll be the biggest hurdle for the Red Sox to get over if they want to bring Snell to Fenway Park. Intradivision trades are very rare, especially with a player the level of the Tampa lefty.
Again, this is where Bloom needs to pull some strings from his time with the organization and may have to take a page out of his predecessor’s book and cash in on those prospects. It’s not in his nature to pillage the farm system to get a big prize now, but after two disastrous seasons, he may feel the pressure to make a big move.
Feinsand lists the Braves, Angels, and Mariners as the favorites that may be in on Snell. Earlier today the Braves signed Snell’s comrade Charlie Morton to a one-year/$15MM contract which may effectively take them out of the running. The lefty has a remaining 3-years/$39MM on his deal and taking on that contract may be too rich for the Braves now.
This brings me back to the Red Sox as they recently reset their CBT threshold marker and can get back to spending the big bucks this winter. Per Christopher Smith of Masslive.com, Boston is sitting around $36MM, give or take, below the $210M CBT limit and that gap will only get bigger next year and the year after. The wiggle room is in the budget to bring in Snell’s deal and still have room to add more pieces to the arsenal. Boston is going to go after pitching more than anything else this winter whether it be by trade or free agency, this could be one hell of a way to beef up the starting rotation.
I don’t know what it would take for Tampa to trade their best pitcher to their rival Red Sox, but I imagine it’d be a king’s ransom of prospects. Based on how the Rays have done business over the years they won’t want to bring in one of Boston’s bigger name talent as they’ll likely be bringing a big salary with them. That could lead to them wanting the best of the best of the farm system, and I think Chaim should listen. If Bloom can bring Snell to the organization while parting with a few of the top prospects, it may be a deal worth making.