Red Sox: Five Black Friday bargains to find in free agency
Another Red Sox bargain starting pitcher
Cole Hamels was among the best pitchers in baseball during the first decade of his career in Philadelphia, making four All-Star appearances and four top-eight finishes on the Cy Young ballot. The 36-year-old is past his peak but he still pitched well over the last few years with the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs before injuries derailed his 2020 season in Atlanta.
Hamels began the season on the injured list with triceps tendinitis that sidelined him until September. He made only one brief appearance before the Braves shut him down with shoulder fatigue.
Whether or not Hamels is a worthy free-agent target depends entirely on the medical reports. If he’s deemed healthy, we can essentially toss out his lost 2020 season. Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 9.1 K/9 in his last relatively healthy season with the Cubs in 2019. If he’s given a clean bill of health, there’s little reason to believe he can’t approach that level of production.
His age and recent injury history make Hamels a risky option but it’s a gamble worth taking on the 1-year, $4 million deal he’s projected for. The uncertainty surrounding Hamels makes it unwise to make him their only investment in the rotation but if the Red Sox plan to sign multiple starters, the upside of Hamels at this price makes him a viable reclamation project.
Based on the MLBTR free-agent predictions, Boston could conceivably sign all five of these players to fill the holes on their roster while remaining below the luxury tax threshold. They could also make a splash with one of the flashier free-agents, which would eat up most of their available budget and leave them choosing between a few of these types of bargain free-agents to plug their remaining holes. Either way, Boston will need to find some value on the market and it’s clear that they should be able to find some at reasonable prices who still provide enticing upside.