In the words of one of the most iconic movie villains of all time, Mugatu, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills,” because it feels like the Red Sox have been ‘interested’ in everyone this offseason, but have moved on no one.
Didn’t Chaim Bloom say last month that the Red Sox were not looking to acquire any more players returning from injury? After all, they’ve already got their hands full with Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and of course, Dustin Pedroia, though his future seems pretty set in stone at this point. This is to say nothing of the work Alex Cora has cut out for him with the healthy players who struggled mightily last season, like Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, well, pretty much everyone.
I’m used to Bloom – and most faces of franchises in this league – being hotter and colder than Katy Perry’s song, but it’s difficult to be patient when the last two years have been some of the most frustrating, indefensible, and quite frankly, heartbreaking, in Red Sox franchise history. Baseball doesn’t have cheerleaders, but if it did, Boston’s would be chanting “Be Aggressive. BE BE AGGRESSIVE!”
In case you slept through it – which is totally understandable, 2020 was exhausting – we’ve finally entered a new year. It’s January 2021, and it’s almost time for the Red Sox to put up or shut up. MLB is now saying that Spring Training will likely begin on time (somehow), which means the Red Sox are less than two months away from needing to put a somewhat-functional team on the field in Fort Myers. Ideally, a team with a starting rotation that isn’t the laughingstock of Major League Baseball, though I’ll settle for just having a full rotation at this point, even if they do combine for a 5+ ERA again. Apparently, it’s a lot to ask for your favorite multi-billion-dollar franchise to actually have a complete roster, let alone a remotely-good one.
As it stands, the Red Sox need to sign at least one starter, a closer, and ideally, bullpen arm who can make regular long-relief appearances. They’ve tendered a contract to the perennially-mediocre Matt Barnes, but as much as they’d love to force his square peg into the round hole, Barnes has shown that he’s a better set-up man than closer. Why aren’t the Red Sox aggressively pursuing All-Star reliever Brad Hand? Or Kirby Yates, who was one of the best bullpen arms in the league in 2018 and 2019? They’ve been reported as “interested” in just about everyone this offseason, but by the lofty standards of Boston sports fans (thanks to the success of Boston sports teams), have signed no one.
Anyway, if Bloom wants to take a flier on former Cy Young Corey Kluber, great; the Red Sox will watch him pitch next week. They announced today that they’ve signed former Oakland A’s 2014 second-round pick Daniel Gossett to a minor league deal with an invitation to big-league spring training. He posted a 5.91 ERA over 23 starts for the A’s between 2017-2018 before needing Tommy John midway through the 2018 season. He’s invited to big-league spring training, and there could be some upside to this deal. The Sox also signed former Angel Matt Andriese to a 1-year low-risk deal valued at $1.85M, but with a career 4.57 ERA in 6 MLB seasons, he is far from an answer to anything.
Presumably, part of the general pitching-acquisition hold-up for Boston has been waiting to find out if Japanese star Tomoyuki Sugano is going to say “Boston, You’re My Home,” which we’ll know on January 7th. But no matter what, the Red Sox need to acquire some pitching, both for the rotation and the bullpen. And they need to do it soon.
Photo: USA Today