Trevor Bauer enters the free-agent market as the best starting pitcher available and his fit with the Red Sox is an interesting one. They need starting pitching help and Bauer could create quite a 1-2 punch with Chris Sale, who is returning from Tommy John surgery. But, there are a couple of reasons why Chaim Bloom should stay away from the probable 2020 NL Cy Young award winner.
Boston finished in last place in the AL East in 2020 for a reason. They had many holes on the roster and it started with the pitching staff. The starting rotation wasn’t pretty last season and it doesn’t look very promising as it stands now.
As I mentioned, Sale is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but isn’t expected to be ready for opening day (assuming that opening day isn’t changed due to the pandemic). Nathan Eovaldi will slot into one of the top three spots in the rotation and the Red Sox hope that Eduardo Rodriguez will be healthy enough to pitch in 2021 after he dealt with complications due to COVID-19, though that obviously isn’t a certainty. Even if Rodriguez is healthy, there are still two more rotation spots up for grabs.
Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck don’t blow anybody away, so Bloom would be making much better use of his payroll by opting to sign two or three starting pitchers to build a complete rotation instead of having a top-heavy rotation headlined by Bauer and Sale. We saw this year with the Dodgers that you need to have more pitching than two dominant starters in the rotation.
Martin Perez seems like he wants to return and there are going to be bargain options available due to losses in revenue in 2020. Among them is former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber as well as some very consistent arms including Charlie Morton and Masahiro Tanaka.
Moving to the bullpen, Matt Barnes is the closer right now but there are better options out there on the free-agent market. The Red Sox got under the luxury tax so they could spend in a winter like this one. Liam Hendriks and Brad Hand are two back of the bullpen options that are certainly in play to come to Boston this offseason if they get the desired contract.
Spreading the “Trevor Bauer money” around to multiple mid-tier pitchers to improve the pitching staff as a whole would be more beneficial than signing one big starter because, as Red Sox fans saw in 2020, they’re more than one talented starting pitcher away from competing with the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees.
(Photo courtesy of John Minchillo/AP)