What are the Red Sox doing?
Well, we know what they’re not doing. Spending money. Making an effort to be remotely competitive in 2020. Preserving the remaining shreds of my sanity.
While the rest of their division makes big moves, the Red Sox have been largely quiet, letting great free agents get away, floating David Price and Mookie Betts as trade pieces, and signing a couple of players who can only be described as ‘questionable to unremarkable.’
Tonight, the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a 4-year, $80 million contract with now-former Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. They’ve already got young bat talent in their trio of MLB legacies, Vladdy Jr., Bichette, and Biggio, and now it looks like they’ll have at least one very solid arm to back them up on the mound.
Ryu had a career 2.98 ERA in 126 games (125 starts) over six seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was a serious NL Cy Young contender for much of 2019, posting a 2.32 ERA over 29 starts. He was particularly dominant in May and July, when he posted ERAs under .6 in both months over a total of 11 games. In this season of juiced balls, he only allowed 17 home runs the entire season, none in his most dominant months, May and July.
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees got their $324-million dollar man, Gerrit Cole last week. Cole could have and probably should have been the AL Cy Young in 2019, posting a 2.50 ERA in 33 starts, finishing the season with a 6.8 WAR. After a few years of not upgrading their starting rotation, and a full decade without a championship, Yankees ownership has high, high hopes for the Cole Train.
And the Red Sox? They signed Martin Perez, who spent 2019 posting a 5.12 ERA in 165 ⅓ innings with the Minnesota Twins after starting his career with seven largely-unremarkable seasons with the Texas Rangers. His ERA has been above 4.30 in seven of his eight seasons in the big leagues. It’s worth noting that opponents only had a hard-hit rate of 29.7% off Perez, and he has begun to develop a very promising cutter, which held opponents to a .218 batting average. But his overall performance is still far from meeting Boston’s stratosphere-high standards. He also has never had success against the AL East: a 6.02 ERA against the division overall. A 9.97 ERA in 5 career games against the Yankees. Hopefully, Chaim Bloom sees a diamond in all this rough, because the welcome wagon looks like it’s staying parked until it’s given a reason to get going again.
It’s not like any of this is a surprise: Red Sox ownership has been making their priorities clear pretty much since the 2018 championship parade ended. But it’s become crystal clear this offseason, as better arms than Perez have gotten away. And knowing this was coming doesn’t make it any less frustrating or unpleasant. What’s interesting is that some of those arms have been similarly-priced, or at the very least, cheaper than Perez’s $6M deal. Michael Wacha and Gio Gonzalez come to mind. Fans knew ownership wouldn’t even look in the direction of Cole or Strasberg, or even Ryu, but so far, it’s been an offseason of well, maddening much-ado-about-nothing. And with no end in sight, Red Sox Nation is in for a pretty unhappy holidays.
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