Inbox: How will Boston target need for arms?

Beat reporter Ian Browne fields fans' questions

October 18th, 2020

Who is at the top of Boston's wish list this offseason? Is it Trevor Bauer?
-- @calichad1

I don’t have a who for you. I just have a what. Pitching is on their wish list. Starters. Relievers. Openers. Closers. Arms -- quality arms. To me, signing Bauer doesn’t seem like the type of move chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would make. The right-hander is going to be premium money and would cost them a Draft pick at a time they are still trying to deepen the farm system as much as possible.

Any chance of a Jon Lester reunion?
-- @billcaine

I’d love to see it. Let’s face it -- the Red Sox made a huge mistake not signing him to an extension when they had the chance. Ownership has been candid in admitting that. What better way to right a wrong and allow Lester to finish his career where he started it? It would be a great story.

The Cubs and Lester have a mutual option for $25 million in 2021. The Cubs can buy Lester out for $10 million, and likely will. In 43 starts over the last two seasons, Lester has a 4.64 ERA. This means that the Red Sox could likely sign him at a reasonable rate.

What are the odds that Alex Cora is back as manager in 2021?

I’m not an oddsmaker, but if I was making the decision, I would bring Cora back in a heartbeat. Players responded well to Cora in his two-year stint managing the Red Sox, and it would obviously be well-received in the clubhouse if he comes back. Cora is also popular among Red Sox fans as many of them have been pining for his return. Bringing Cora back could help to rejuvenate a fan base that was discouraged by the 2020 season. As for the detractors who say he was part of a sign-stealing scandal with the Astros? Everyone deserves a second chance.

Does Andrew Benintendi have any market value?
-- @bosoxlady

Great question. Obviously, Benintendi doesn’t have the value he would have had if he was traded after the 2018 season. But we have to remember this guy is still only 26 years old. Sure, he under-performed in '19. But you can’t read much into his 4-for-39 start this season before he sustained a right rib injury. That is just too small a sample size. Benintendi took good at-bats in Spring Training and in Summer Camp.

I think he just got in his own head once the shortened season started, couldn’t stop the bleeding and then came the injury. If you’re the Red Sox, the one reason you might trade him is because he has a very similar skillset to Alex Verdugo. If you can get some solid pitching for Benintendi, you’d have to at least consider it.

Which prospects do you see making an impact as soon as 2021? Could be interesting to see how Jarren Duran is transitioned into the big leagues given JBJ’s impending free agency.
-- @aFordMurphy

There were two prospects late in the season who gave the Red Sox a lot to look forward to in righty starter Tanner Houck (Boston's No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) and corner infielder Bobby Dalbec (No. 3). Both of those guys are in line to be key performers next season. I agree that Duran is very exciting and has a dynamic skillset. But you wonder how not having a Minor League season in 2020 could alter how the club views his development needs going forward.

Do you expect Jackie Bradley Jr. to be on the Red Sox in 2021 (and potentially beyond)?
-- @RedManMatt11

All I really have to go on right now is the way Bradley was talking in his final session of the season with reporters. And he sure sounded like a guy who was smelling the roses because he felt like his time in Boston was coming to an end. That said, this market is going to be so unpredictable given the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic. One of the best parts of my job is watching JBJ play center field, so I’d be pleased if the sides find common ground and continue the relationship.