Red Sox offseason pitching signings have quietly given organization depth
Pitching additions have been adding stock to the Red Sox system
The moment the World Series came to a conclusion in October, there was a sigh of relief that Major League Baseball was (for the most part) able to finish the peculiar season it had started. To the joy of many, players returned home to their families and went about their offseasons as usual. In a typical Boston Red Sox offseason, the average fan would be expecting a sort of big market splash as the bar has been set high in Boston for many years. That was not the case last offseason, nor has it been to this point in the offseason. Instead, the Red Sox quietly addressed their biggest need in a very under-the-radar way, by stockpiling pitchers of varying age and experience.
Spring training is just around the corner and once again, there is a whole batch of new faces expected to show up in Ft. Myers next month should the MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred follow through on the plan to have a normal season. Chaim Bloom’s Red Sox have added numerous arms via minor-league signing, major league signing, waiver claim, and once again through the Rule 5 Draft.
For many, the transactions that have taken place hardly have any Boston fans batting an eye, but the idea of Bloom taking a gamble on multiple players with upside for a bargain rather than paying one relief pitcher a huge salary (see Liam Hendriks) could potentially pay off.
Bloom’s game plan has been oft-compared to the Tampa Bay blueprint, which is a fair evaluation considering the time he spent with the organization, but he showed us earlier this week that he was not afraid to spend like many predecessors in his role.
The trade he executed on Monday in essentially buying Adam Ottavino and a prospect shows exactly that by taking on $8 million and a $3 million signing bonus. The price to acquire the right-hander was rather steep for the 35-year-old veteran, but gaining an effective arm to go with a prospect for only a year of salary goes to show that Bloom is willing to take a hit on the cap for the sake of making both the system and team better at the same time. Had the team gone out and gotten a relief pitcher for the same price on the open market, there wouldn’t be a young prospect to show for it.
This spring training should be a competitive atmosphere, with several pitchers looking to make make the most of their chances. Some of the hurlers currently on the 40-man roster could be expendable in the event that one or more of the low-risk signings has a strong spring performance, so the competition can be expected to be fierce going into yet another season of uncertainty for a club that finished in the last place in the division.
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The Red Sox need pitching depth more than ever to complement a very deep lineup which was glaringly evident last season. While it appeared the hitters seemingly forgot to bring their bats to the park on some days, the pitching took most of the flack. There were some hidden gems underneath it all, with some pleasant surprises in Bloom’s last wave of low-risk pick ups panning out. Take Philips Valdez for example, who was very effective all season out of the pen.
In making all of these moves, Boston is likely looking for at least one or two Valdez’s to emerge out of the batch of unheralded names that are currently slated to be stock piled in Worcester to start the year. All of the extra names looking for bullpen spots should give Boston optimism knowing that at least one is likely to make an impact in some form. It has happened in years before Bloom’s arrival as well in the form of Ryan Brasier and Marcus Walden.
All it takes is a team willing to give a player a chance, and Chaim Bloom is the poster child for taking gambles of that nature. In addition to the low-profile signings is the surplus of starting pitchers competing for a role. The plan has considered starting the year with a six-man rotation but still has about eight players total in the running. Those two unfortunate individuals who do not make the cut as starters will still see several opportunities to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, further ensuring optimism in a stronger pitching core for 2021.
Perhaps this sounds a little too good to be true, and maybe it is. The offseason may be coming close to an end, but there are still many names on the open market who need to sign. These moves and more are going to come, and after a long hiatus from making progress in the offseason, Boston has gone into high drive. Boston isn’t done yet and things already look better than they did last year.