Welcome back to Read Sox. This week we focus on the construction of the roster. We consider the work Dave Dombrowski and Mike Hazen will be doing at the GM meetings this week, laying groundwork for potential trades. We also take a look at players on the roster who offer versatility, rank the top players in the farm system, and check in on two ex-Red Sox who could be managing in Los Angeles next year.
The meetings of the general managers takes place this week in Boca Raton, Florida. The meetings will be the first for Dave Dombrowski and Mike Hazen as leaders of the Red Sox front office. While it is unlikely that much player movement will happen during these meetings, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reminds us that they are a gateway to the offseason, an opportunity for club leaders to lay the groundwork for future moves. Right now a lot of attention is being paid to the free agent market; and rightfully so as it holds a deep crop of great players. The Red Sox will probably be in the mix to sign one of the top-flight free agent starters, but what is a lot more fun—and much more difficult—is determining and evaluating trade candidates. To a large extent, Dave Dombrowski’s reputation comes from his trading prowess, so we can expect him to make a trade or two in the coming months. Along these lines, Scott Lauber of BostonHerald.com outlines five teams that he thinks could be good transaction partners for the Red Sox, and Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com takes a stab at identifying specific pitchers for whom the Sox could trade. Regardless, Brian MacPherson writes in the Providence Journal that the trade market presents an early test of Dombrowski’s knowledge of his new farm system, something that Dombrowski is well aware of. Outside of trading Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts I think anything should be considered.
That outlines things from more of a general perspective, but how about some specific speculation on the Red Sox moves this offseason? Two great, Boston-focused writers, Peter Gammons and Chad Finn, do just that in recent articles. Gammons focuses on the rotation, considering options beyond Zack Greinke, who Gammons sees as the top prize. He outlines the difficulty that Boston will have in luring a top-of-the-line starter to pitch in the American League East, its hitter friendly parks, for the next five-to-seven years and, when those pitchers could opt for a team in the National League West and all its pitcher friendly parks. Alas, we get back to considering trade partners. One really intriguing option that Gammons presents is Chris Sale of the White Sox. It is likely wishful thinking, but he outlines how the two teams could line up on a trade that involved Boston sending Blake Swihart and Javier Guerra to the Windy City. Sale would be a huge get for the Red Sox, as Sale is really good (opponent TAv .227), left-handed, only 26-years-old, and signed to a team-friendly contract. Finn states that he has no idea what the Sox are going to do, but again leans toward trades as the best way to acquire pitching. He reminds us that the offense is fine, having scored the fourth most runs in baseball last year without much production from two important pieces. Pitching is the need. Someone like the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, or one of the Mets’ fireballers would be solid acquisitions, but the prices in Queens are likely too high. Finn’s primary caveat for any trade is, like I suggested above, Betts and Bogaerts should be untouchable.
Perhaps the most glaring part of the roster that is in need of correction is the bullpen. However, fixing said bullpen is a complicated matter. Re-positioning players currently in the organization like Matt Barnes, who the Sox have ticketed for relief duty in 2016, is one approach, but Tim Britton of the Providence Journal shows there are plenty of relief options outside the organization that should be explored.
The decision to move Hanley Ramirez to first base affects the immediate big league future of Travis Shaw, who in the last two months of the season showed that he has the potential to be a productive major league first baseman. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Shaw is hoping versatility will get him regular playing time. He has been playing third base in winter ball in Puerto Rico, and could even play some games in the outfield if it means getting into the lineup.
Christian Vasquez is rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery that derailed his 2015 season by playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. He is being used exclusively as a designated hitter and while he is performing well, Scott Lauber of BostonHerald.com writes that, because he is not performing full catching duties, his readiness for the coming season won’t be certain until the Spring.
While much remains to be determined with the Red Sox roster for the 2016 season, the future appears bright, as the farm system is loaded with talent. As mentioned above, over the next few months many of these up-and-coming players will be bandied about in trade rumours. Bryce Brentz for Clayton Kershaw? Sure, I’d consider it. If you are wondering about where the players who are getting mentioned rank within the organization, check out the consensus Top-60 that the staff at Sox Prospects released last Friday.
According to a report from CBSSports.com, a couple of former Red Sox players are frontrunners to be the next manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both Dave Roberts, of 2004 ALCS Game 4 stolen base fame, and Gabe Kapler, who played in Boston from 2003 to 2006, have given impressive interviews in their chance to take the reigns in Chavez Ravine.
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