By Gerard Lombardo – @wickedlinedrive
Missouri isn’t my favorite destination… It’s actually at the bottom of the list of states I’ve lived in. St. Louis offers a fun tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery, the Gateway Arch is good for a few photos, but its not referred to as ‘Misery’ by its inhabitants for its glee. But they do offer one thing Massachusetts can’t – other than oppressive heat and seasonal tornado threats – which is a pair of baseball teams. Why that state needs two, I’ll never know, but at least they’re not on Florida’s wavelength when it comes to homing unnecessary professional sport franchises.
The St. Louis Cardinals had a good run in the early 2000’s, but it’s been the Royals of Kansas City over the past decade who’s taken advantage of their worst place finishes to draft a solid nucleus of talent, and are now reaping their benefits in the major leagues. This is a franchise that darn near won back to back World Series titles in 2014-2015; but success in Major League Baseball is often short lived, and the 95 win team of 2015, (first Royals club to post 90 victories since 19 freaking 89) is getting ready to part ways with household names following consecutive third place finishes under Ned Yost.
So while the Kansas City general manager will be dealing with unfortunate subtractions, our president of baseball operations has his own agenda: are there any pending Boston free agents that are worthy of a resigning? You could argue that the answer is no, there simply isn’t one player that needs to return to the team in order to achieve success in 2018 or beyond. So let’s make an educated dissection of the dearly departing, and determine Dombrowski’s job for him. I’ve ranked the players from shortest to tallest, for no literal reason.
Rajai Davis, 5’10”- thanks for stealing three bases in four attempts; the pair of doubles were a welcome surprise as well. But Rajai’s are a dime a dozen, as late inning pinch base runners could be yanked out a college track team locker room.
Verdict: 394 career steals isn’t anything to scoff at, but speed can be bought for the league minimum, at any point in the calendar year. Hard pass.
Eduardo Nunez, 6’0″- if you had told me at the start of the season, that the Sox and Giants would swap hot corner starters in the unorthodox fashion of releasing the incumbent, and trading for the upgrade, I’d have given you a nice, firm handshake. Pablo was a freaking mess in a Sox uniform. Both physically and figuratively. Noonie gave the Sox an enormous lift in August, and had his health but a non factor, he could have made a significant contribution against the ‘Stros. But, health is a factor, both between him and the regular 2nd baseman that’s been here for nearly 15 years. Do you spend the money on Eduardo, given his track record of not succumbing to injury, and let the infield positions shake themselves out, or is that money best utilized improving the bullpen and offense? Let’s see what Dave has up his sleeve.
Verdict: I won’t be upset if he returns on a one year or multi year deal, but I’d be pretty disappointed if both him and Dustin spent significant time on the injury report, while tying up somewhere between $20-$25 million in resources. I’m giving Eddie a soft no.
Fernando Abad, 6’1″- middle relievers are like relationships; just when you think you’ve got a pretty good one, they show their true colors. Abad has been with five organizations in eight seasons. Why? Because he’s not that good.
Verdict: Bye boy.
Chris Young, 6’2″ – I don’t live and die by WAR, but when you’re in the negative, that’s saying one thing: you’ve been detrimental to the team’s success. Sadly, Young overperformed in ’16, and came back to Earth this year, accomplishing very little as the Sox number four outfielder.
Verdict: pack your bags utility man. As a 34 year old .235 hitter, you may be playing for a minor league contract now. $6.5M off the books.
Mitch Moreland, 6’2″- Mitchie Not-Enough-Four-Bags is a nice piece, and he provided the Sox with exactly what they thought he would: 125 H, 22 HR and 79 RBI, which are nearly identical to his career averages of 133/23/76. But the one position that can be upgraded without benching or trading away a starter is 1B, and Moreland would’ve had to greatly exceed expectations to earn a long term agreement.
Verdict: Hope that Mitch can land a three year deal somewhere, he deserves it. Solid hitter, good glove. Just not essential to Boston in 2018 and beyond.
Kyle Kendrick, 6’3″ – just… no.
Verdict: 74 career wins in Philly. Maybe they’ll want him?
Blaine Boyer, 6’3″ – Boyer has somehow worn 10 different numbers between MLB and Japanese ball on his back since his 2005 debut in Atlanta. Pitched decent at Fenway, 23 innings to just nine runs, but nobody will be bending over backwards to add the 36 year old to their club any time soon.
Verdict: arguably, the 3rd most important free agent Dombrowski needs to address. But he won’t be back for any foreseeable reason.
Addison Reed, 6’4″- the only Addison I want in a Sox uni is as Addison Russell. Reed is another shining example of a pitcher who thrives in the National League (2.98 ERA, 9.6 K/10) only to get bombed in the Junior Circuit, made apparent by his over 4 ERA and propensity to give up late in ding dongs here in Boston.
Verdict: Pass. He made nearly $8M last season, and even if he were to take a pay cut, those dollars are too valuable to spend on him.
Doug Fister, 6’8″- decent starter, just didn’t thrive in the AL East, like so many other hurlers. June and July weren’t kind to the former all star, as he went 1-5 with 33 innings spanning 8 games. September and October were frightening, as his ERA was nearly 6. He made some contributions, but there’s no room for him on the big league squad.
Verdict: look for Doug to hook up on a 1 year pact with a non playoff contender this offseason.
The main takeaway from this article is that the Red Sox front office duties have been simplified to the extent that they don’t need to stress over any significant goodbyes. Mitch, Nunez and Reed are the only legitimate candidates to start opening day on a major league roster, and none of them, barring maybe Nunez, would improve Boston (on paper) next year. How Dombrowski and the brass will spend the freed up money is essential to the franchises continued success.