After a largely dormant offseason, the Red Sox have made two moves in two days to send Red Sox fans into a bit of a frenzy. The Red Sox first signed Lucas Giolito for two years and $38M (with an opt out after Year 1). The next day, they traded Chris Sale and $17M to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Vaughn Grissom. The front office looks to have a plan in place to improve this roster after trading away Sale along with a portion of his contract, as the Red Sox have moved $36M under the first CBT threshold, which gives them a lot more wiggle room as the winter draws on.
Here are a few ways the Red Sox can continue to Improve
It is safe to assume that Craig Breslow and Co. would not look to free up salary space unless they've planned something more and are prepared to give out a handsome contract. Before the Giolito and Sale deals were made, there was heavy talk of Teoscar Hernández finding his way to Boston. This would be a nice addition for the Red Sox, and with his ability to connect with the baseball, his right-handed swing has potential to play incredibly well with the Green Monster. Since 2020, Hernández has never had a barrel% below the 87th percentile. Along with an average glove (57th percentile OAA), he could fill the hole left by Alex Verdugo, who was recently traded to the Yankees.
With Chris Sale's departure, the Red Sox projected rotation lacks a lefty arm. On FanGraphs, they are looking at a rotation of Giolito, Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Tanner Houck, and Kutter Crawford. For one, this rotation lacks any real fear factor minus Bello, who is entering his second full season and should not be considered the clear ace so early on. Therefore, the Red Sox need an ace and they need a lefty. Well, luckily for them, there happens to be one currently unsigned in Blake Snell. Snell, the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, could fill a huge hole the Red Sox lack at the moment.
Some red flags go along with Snell, particularly his walk rate, which sits at a seriously ugly 10.9% for his career. Last season, when he won the NL Cy Young, his 13.3% mark was dead last in the MLB by almost a full 2%. He managed to combat these numbers by striking out 31.2% of the batters that he faced. There was certainly some BABIP luck involved here as well, with a .256 BABIP against, good for third lowest in baseball. So Snell is certainly due for some regression from his Cy Young season, which is to be expected for almost all Cy Young award winners. Fortunately, that looks to be baked into his contract, with The Athletic projecting Snell to earn $135M over 5 years. With Frankie Montas just recently signing with the Reds for $16M, a $27M AAV for Snell is a nice discount based on his hardware.
Finally, the Red Sox middle infield got crowded with the addition of Grissom. Grissom has six years of team control remaining on his contract, so the Sox appear to have locked up a bridge option, if not a long-term piece, until one of their up-and-coming prospects reaches the big leagues. I think this opens up the potential for a trade to acquire a legitimate starting pitcher. Jesus Luzardo is a name that has been floating around for a while now, and is an addition I would love to see the Red Sox make.
Something along these lines might just get it done. Luzardo is a young and potentially elite piece for the Red Sox to go out and get. It would certainly hurt to let go of Duran, but this is the value that Luzardo will likely command. Triston Casas' name has been floating around in trade rumors, and that is a hard no. Hopefully, it would not come to that. Nick Yorke is another name the Red Sox should strongly consider looking to move to acquire someone like Luzardo.
There are a lot of directions the Red Sox can go in after this most recent Chris Sale trade and, hopefully, they choose a direction of aggression. They have been far too passive over the past five seasons. The moves made should give fans hope that this team is finally ready to establish itself in the AL East once again, with the Rays and Orioles remaining stagnant thus far. The next few weeks have the potential to be some of the best in a long time for Red Sox fans.