I recently noticed that there wasn’t much of a middle ground in the off-season acquisitions of Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. It feels like the players he mainly brought in over the winter were either excellent additions or whopping flops.
So I thought, let’s do the math and get a testimonial.
We will not repeat every last step or litigate the acquisition and loss of Joel Payamps. Instead, let’s take a look at Bloom’s 10 Most Notable Off-Season Moves – and give it a note.
Dec 10: Selected Yankees RHP Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 Draft.
With half-hearted apologies to John Trautwein, Mike Trujillo, and mostly obscure other players, Whitlock was the most formidable Rule 5 pick in Red Sox history – and the fact that they stole it from the unsuspecting Yankees makes it all the cuter.
Whitlock was excellent all season and a one-man rescue team for the recently flammable bullpen, who posted a 1.60 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 62 innings. The only complaint is that he hasn’t figured out how to clone himself because the Sox now need two more from him. Note: A-plus.
Dec 14: Signed by Hunter Renfroe as a free agent.
There have been few better free agent bargains this season than the 29-year-old outfielder, who joined the Sox on a one-year contract for $ 3.1 million after hitting 0.158 for the Rays last year. Renfroe is prone to break-ins, but he still has more home runs (25-23), two fewer RBIs (77-79) and 20 fewer strikeouts (100-120) than alleged cornerstone JD Martinez.
While his GPS is sometimes faulty in the outfield, he plays well on the right field and has an arm that … well, if not quite the price of admission, then at least the price of a hot dog and a beer is worth it. Note: A-minus.
December 23: RHP Matt Andriese signed as a free agent
Call this a good idea that just didn’t work out. Andrie’s repertoire left him with the Sox, and the pitcher, who was to be an important long-man in the bullpen, dropped an incredible 55 hits in 37⅓ innings prior to his release earlier this month.
But he contributed in a compelling way: he helped Whitlock teach his time-changing change. Note: D.
January 25: Acquisition of RHP Adam Ottavino, RHP Frank German and Cash from the Yankees for cash or a player to be named later.
The Red Sox and Yankees don’t trade often, but when they do there always seems to be an abstract or strange aspect to it. The Red Sox essentially took Ottavino and the budding Germans as gifts from the Yankees so New York could make some space below the salary cap.
Ottavino justifies a half sincere thank you; he was an important part of the late inning mix but goes way too many batter (5.2 per 9). It almost feels predestined that he will be at a pivotal spot in the wildcard game on the hill against the Yankees, doesn’t it? Grade: B-minus.
February 2: CF / 2B Kiké Hernández signed as free agent.
Hernández ‘signing of a two-year contract for $ 14 million became official the day after Dustin Pedroia’s resignation was announced. There’s a touch of symmetry there; Hernández is not the same player as Pedroia because few are, but he plays with a similar spark.
Hernández, the one. 811 OPS and 17 homers, leads the Red Sox in the baseball reference version of WAR (4.4), mainly because of his excellent midfield defense and savvy baserunning.
Perhaps Bloom should have prioritized Marcus Semien instead, but there shouldn’t be any complaints about what brought Hernández to the team. Note: A-minus.
February 3: RHP Garrett Richards signed as a free agent.
In 2002 the Red Sox won 93 games. Pedro Martinez delivered his usual brilliance, going 20-4 with a 2.26 ERA. Derek Lowe went 21-8, 2.58 and threw a no-hitter. Tim Wakefield was 11-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 45 games and 15 starts.
But this team lagged behind the playoffs. A big reason: a gap in the rotation. Frank Castillo served in 36 games (23 starts) and went a dismal 6-15 with a 5.07 ERA in 163⅓ innings.
When this Red Sox season is over, especially if they miss the playoffs, we’ll look back and wonder how the hell Richards and Martín Pérez got to make (at least) 44 starts. However, there is some hope that Richards in the Bullpen can be saved. Note: D-plus.
February 10th: As part of a deal with three teams, OF Andrew Benintendi is exchanged to the Royals for OF Franchy Cordero and four interested parties.
The winner of this deal will be determined by the names involved, who are currently the least known. Cordero, who has a homer and a batting average of .189, has at least two holes in his swing. Benintendi has gotten into a pattern of mediocrity between injuries, with a .709 OPS and 12 homers for the Royals.
So think of the names Josh Winckowski, Luis De La Rosa, Grant Gambrell, and Freddy Valdez. These varying promise prospects will determine how the Red Sox fared on this deal. Note: Cordero, F; the rest, TBD.
February 16: RHP Hirokazu Sawamura signs as a free agent.
The 10-year veteran of the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League came to the US on a two-year deal and was exactly what the Red Sox had hoped for – a reliable option for the middle and late innings with a 3.15 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 45⅔ innings. Note: B-plus
February 24th: INF / OF Marwin Gonzalez signed as a free agent.
My guess is that Alex Cora saw a lot of his old ballplay self in the versatile, intelligent, offensively challenged utility man, which is probably why he got more swings than he deserved. Gonzalez was released after deploying a .567 OPS in 242 AT bats.
Just a clue, but history might eventually remind him as the astro who benefited most from their betrayal. Note: F.
March 7th: OF / INF Danny Santana signed as free agent.
He homered in each of his first two games, but has hit .165 in 104 record appearances since then and was then injured. Carlos Santana would have been more productive. No, not the Royals’ first baseman. The guitarist. Note: F.
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