5 thoughts on Boston's 2020 offseason

December 4th, 2020

BOSTON -- The pool of available free agents across baseball is now complete after 56 players were non-tendered in advance of Wednesday's deadline.

For the Red Sox, a team looking to upgrade in several areas, this batch of players will create more opportunities for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to find some low-risk, high-reward acquisitions.

But this isn't to say Boston will stand down on big-ticket acquisitions. One of the few bright spots in 2020 for the Red Sox is that they reset their luxury tax, which could enable them to spend more freely this offseason.

1. Schwarber, anyone?
Though the non-tender market isn't quite as robust as some suspected, the deepest pocket of potential impact players is in the outfield. Most notably, a former World Series hero is now there for the taking after was let go by the Cubs.

While Schwarber struggled mightily in the shortened 2020 season, so, too, did a lot of good players throughout baseball. Keep in mind that the left-handed hitter mashed 38 homers to go along with an .871 OPS in '19.

With now a free agent, the Red Sox have a void to fill in the outfield. Schwarber could take over left field, with Andrew Benintendi sliding over to center. Boston would take a defensive hit in this arrangement, but if Schwarber hits like he is capable, the club could make up for that offensively. Schwarber is a left-handed hitter, and so are Benintendi and Alex Verdugo. In other words, if Schwarber comes on board, the Sox would need to get a solid righty platoon player to give the outfield proper balance.

2. Another gift from the Twins?
We all remember the last time the Red Sox picked up a left-handed-hitting slugger who had been released by the Twins instead of getting offered arbitration. That would be Jan. 22, 2003, when David Ortiz came to Boston, where he would become a legend.

Nobody is saying that is going to become the next Big Papi, because that's a lot of pressure to put on anyone. But the 29-year-old Rosario, an outfielder, has been productive enough in recent years to make it surprising that Minnesota set him free. Rosario was a force for the "Bomba Squad" Twins of 2019, mashing 32 homers in 590 plate appearances. While Rosario has experience in all three outfield spots, he is most comfortable in left, where he has made 547 career starts. However, his cannon arm might allow him to play right field in Boson, which would move Verdugo to center while keeping Benintendi in left.

3. Nomar in Boston again?
Could Red Sox fans get back into their "Nomaahhhhh" routines, which were made famous by "Saturday Night Live?" This time it wouldn't be for Garciaparra, who took his final Major League swing in 2009. But was non-tendered by the White Sox, making him available to all 30 teams.

As we've mentioned, the Red Sox have playing time available in the outfield. Mazara's bat was nearly non-existent in 2020 (one homer, .589 OPS in 136 at-bats), meaning he could land in the bargain bin. Given that Mazara is only 25, it could be well worth it to take a flier on a man who belted 20 homers in each of his first three seasons for the Rangers and then hit 19 more in '19. Like Schwarber and Rosario, Mazara is also a lefty bat.

4. Duvall and Dahl?
Put non-tenders and together and what do you have? A possible outfield platoon at Fenway Park.

Duvall, a right-handed hitter, mauled three homers against the Red Sox in a game at Fenway Park on Sept. 2. Though his production was on the inconsistent side, Duvall had 16 homers in 190 at-bats last season. Will Duvall ever get back to his form of 2016-17, when he had consecutive 30-homer seasons? Even if he doesn't, he could still be a worthwhile addition.

Then you have Dahl, a left-handed hitter, who has never had more than 374 at-bats in a season. In other words, he is used to platooning. And before 2020, when he bottomed out with a .183 average, Dahl platooned very well for the Rockies, slashing .297/.346/.521 in 845 at-bats between '16-19. The 26-year-old should have plenty of good baseball left in him.

5. What about pitching?
You might have heard the Red Sox need pitching. Well, there isn't much rotation help available in the non-tender market. But there are a couple of intriguing bullpen alternatives.

How about , the one-time stud prospect who came up through the D-backs? While Bradley wasn't able to break through as a starter, he found a niche as a powerful reliever. That was especially true in 2017, when Bradley had a 1.73 ERA in 63 outings. As recently as '19, his stuff was good enough to get 87 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. The righty was dealt to the Reds on Aug. 31, and he allowed just one run in six appearances.

The next most intriguing reliever who comes with a non-tender tag? That would be , who had a 1.07 ERA in 18 outings (four starts) for the Twins in 2020. Mind you, relief pitching fluctuates more than any other position in baseball, And Wisler had never been anything close to his '20 self in his previous stints with the Mariners, Padres, Reds and Braves. With two years of club control left, the Red Sox could be willing to find out what they can get out of Wisler, a righty who loves to throw sliders.