SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon Workman will be a key piece to the Boston bullpen after his breakout performance in 2019.
However, the Red Sox haven’t committed to him as the closer.
That is no slight at Workman. It’s more a case of new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom seeing what all the pieces in the bullpen look like before manager Alex Cora defines roles.
“With respect to Workman, I don’t think we are far enough along in our discussions to have really figured out how things will line up next year,” said Bloom on the second day of the General Managers Meetings. “He did a hell of a job. He did a great job. He certainly proved more than capable of handling that role. I just don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves in determining how it’s going to line up for 2020.”
Workman was among the most improved relievers in the game last season, going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 73 appearances.
In the second half of the season, once Cora promoted him to the closer’s role, Workman converted 13 of 15 save opportunities.
As an executive with the Tampa Bay Rays, Bloom and his staff weren’t tied to conventional roles -- be it in the starting rotation or bullpen. There’s a chance the Sox could go with matchups in the ninth inning next year, though they struggled while going in that direction early in 2019.
“I don’t think it’s fair to have one set model,” said Bloom. “I think every club is different. You have to do what you think is going to work best for you, what you think is going to win you the most games.”
Along with Workman, the Red Sox also have Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree set to return as established righties. Young lefty Darwinzon Hernandez was lights-out down the stretch. But Bloom has been around the game long enough to know that a bullpen is never as deep as it might look on paper during the offseason.
Boston’s front office will scour the bullpen market in search of impact arms.
“We would obviously like to bolster the club as much as we possibly can in every area,” Bloom said. “Bullpen is no exception. Have a lot of confidence in a lot of the guys who are here. But that’s a group where every year, your depth in that area is always tested. The thicker we can make that group, the better.”
Lots of conversations
The GM Meetings are typically an event where you lay the foundation for future moves rather than executing them, and Bloom and his staff believe they’ve made progress in their first two days in Scottsdale.
“We’ve had a good day so far, good evening last night,” Bloom said. “Lot of conversations internally, conversations with other clubs, agents, obviously some meetings on the schedule I believe that are organized, so a pretty packed day so far.”
Chavis, Dalbec roles TBD
But it remains to be seen what roles will be open. Chavis played first base and second base last season, and general manager Brian O’Halloran said the club hasn’t plotted a specific spot for him in 2020. It could be that Chavis is most valuable rotating between the two spots as he did last year. He can also play third, but Rafael Devers likely has that spot locked down for the next several years.
Chavis belted 18 homers in 347 at-bats before injuries halted his rookie season early.
“I don’t think we’ve come to any definitive conclusion,” said O’Halloran. “He showed this year that he’s a pretty versatile player, so I don’t think we’ve come to any definitive conclusions, but it’s good that he can play all three positions.”
Dalbec, Boston’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has been playing for Team USA this fall. He will again get an invite to Major League Spring Training. Though Dalbec didn’t get called up by the Red Sox in 2019, he spent a week with the club late in the season getting hands-on instruction from the coaching staff.
“The performance has been really good, the reports have been great,” said O’Halloran. “He’s a really good player and we expect him to be a big part of our future, so we look forward to him being with us again in big league camp and go from there."
If the Sox trade one of their outfielders this winter, there’s a chance that Dalbec -- a corner infielder by trade -- could get some action in left field during Spring Training.