Was that headline dramatic? Yes. Did it get you to click and see what it was all about? Also yes. Let's discuss.
In case you missed it, the Red Sox signed Hunter Renfroe last week. Not a huge headline-grabber, but it filled a need -- a right-handed power bat at a corner outfield position. If you watched even one inning of Red Sox baseball in 2020, then you're well aware that their greatest need moving forward is pitching. Starting pitching, bullpen, doesn't matter. They need it all. Charlie Morton would've been a nice fit, but he ended up signing with the Atlanta Braves. Before he did so, the Red Sox were at least in on him. I think it's safe to say that Trevor Bauer, the top free agent pitcher on the market, isn't going to end up in Boston, which means Chaim Bloom is going to have to get creative. That means either finding a diamond in rough via free agency, or going the trade route to land a starter with whatever assets the Red Sox are willing to part with.
As you might've heard, the Red Sox have been heavily linked to right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who didn't have a stellar 2020, but posted a 3.51 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.36 FIP and struck out 178 batters in 159 innings in 2019. Odorizzi has drawn interest from several clubs, which means that he's more than likely going to get a multi-year deal as a result of the quantity of his suitors. Then you have 31-year-old right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano of Japan, who was posted by the Yomiuri Giants last week. The Red Sox are interested via the Boston Globe.
The two-time winner of the Sawamura Award as Japan’s best pitcher, 14-2 with a 1.97 ERA in 2020, is viewed as a No. 3 or 4 starter expected to garner a two- or three-year deal. (The posting process includes a fee paid by whomever signs him to the Giants, equal to a percentage of Sugano’s earnings — 20 percent of the first $25 million, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent of anything beyond that.)
Beyond Odorizzi and Sugano, the Red Sox were previously linked to two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber who will be throwing for interested teams soon. Other names include Milton native and former Red Sox lefty Rich Hill, who is going into his age-41 season but had a 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 38.2 innings for the Twins last year.
I understand that none of these names will blow your dicks off, but I have two counter points. The first being the aforementioned factor that the Red Sox can look outside the free agent market and explore a trade for a higher caliber starter. The second being that let's not forget the Red Sox played the entire 2020 season without Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. So, you're already getting two frontline starters in 2021 that you didn't have last year for nothing in return. Sale, of course, won't be ready for Opening Day, but you can tread water with some of these other names until Sale is ready to return. You also don't want to bank on Sale being the ace he once was right out of the gate, thus a need for depth in the rotation.
What I arrived on after reading the Joel Sherman report that said "executives around the league keep saying watch the Red Sox" leads me to believe that rival teams aren't saying keep an eye on the Red Sox because they're going to sign Odorizzi, Hill, or an unproven 31-year-old from Japan. While adding any of the previously named arms would certainly help, it's not something that would make rival teams shake in their boots. There has to be a trade somewhere to make an instant impact. At least, that's what Red Sox fans are hoping and perhaps what Sherman's report would suggest.
And I will admit, saying that signing Renfroe was "just the beginning" made it move a little bit.