The Boston Red Sox will need to move fast if the lockout ends

Boston Red Sox left fielder Kyle Schwarber (18) Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox left fielder Kyle Schwarber (18) Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

With labor talks underway, the Boston Red Sox will need to move fast if the MLB lockout ends in order to shore up their team before spring training begins.

The team has weakened itself since the end of 2021 with the unfathomable trade of Hunter Renfroe and some questionable pitching acquisitions.

Acquisitions of pitchers James Paxton (with suspect availability after Tommy John Surgery), Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill cost significantly in the aggregate, and each has question marks surrounding them.

The Boston Red Sox need to sign or trade for an outfielder

The splash before the lockout on the three pitchers noted above cost over $20M, a sum that could have been invested to cover much of the cost of a top starter like Marcus Stroman.

Add the big salary ($12M) to be paid to Jackie Bradley Jr. and the allocation of what now seem to be more limited available resources is questionable at best.

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And no, neither of the two prospects acquired in the Bradley trade, Alex Binelas and David Hamilton, will contribute a thing to the 2022 Red Sox team.

Unloading a solid player like Renfroe for two prospects and a weak-hitting defensive outfielder who costs significantly more just doesn’t hold water.

The Renfroe trade can only be seen as weakening a Red Sox team that should have been strengthened to make a World Series run in 2022. To date, it signals a terrible strategy.

Bloom has weakened his outfield’s offensive production dramatically by substituting Bradley for Renfroe in this mind boggling deal. When the lockout ends, the Sox will have to go get an outfielder who can hit more than the abysmal .163 average that Bradley hit for last season.

The thought that Renfroe, a 31 home run, 96 RBI player was traded for a significantly more costly outfielder with that average is appalling, prospects or no prospects.

There has been some speculation that Seiya Suzuki, a Japanese outfielder who is set to make the transition from Japan to the MLB, may be in the Red Sox plans. Suzuki hit .309 in the Nippon Professional Baseball league over nine seasons there, and he hit 38 home runs with 88 RBI’s and a .317 batting average last season.

If they sign him, hopefully a good percentage of that production will translate over to the Boston Red Sox. That’s a huge question though, as the transition can be tall task for a player to overcome.

If Boston wants to sign some proven major league talent, there are still going to be some options on the market once the lockout ends. The best available are Nick Castellanos, who hit 34 home runs with 100 RBI’s and a .309 average for the Cincinnati Reds last season, and Boston’s own free agent, Kyle Schwarber.

Schwarber is the best fit. He hit well at Fenway during his short stint here last season, is only 28 years old, and is not looking for an extremely long deal. It’s rumored to be in the three-five-year range. That’s perfect.

Here’s what one source suggests about Castellanos’ and Schwarber’s contracts,

"Castellanos in particular figures to land something well shy of the seven or eight years he was reportedly seeking, though Schwarber could still come in around the five-year, $70 million projection from MLB Trade Rumors."

Schwarber would be an absolute steal at $14M per year, and he’d still be only 33 or so at the end of the deal. It’s a no-brainer. Chaim Bloom should just go out and sign him.

Any negative feedback about Schwarber’s defensive liabilities are short-sighted. He’ll likely split time at first base and in the outfield next season and would probably replace J.D. Martinez as the Sox DH for four years thereafter. It’s the ideal deal, so to speak.

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Those are some thoughts on what Chaim Bloom needs to concentrate upon once the lockout ends. He needs an outfielder who can replace Renfroe’s production in the lineup.

He also could use a deal for a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in a trade. There are clearly too many questions swirling around Paxton and Wacha specifically to feel comfortable about either. There are also bullpen concerns, including maybe adding a closer that also require addressing.

What do you think the Boston Red Sox needs to do?