The Red Sox won the World Series just less than a year ago. Now they are beginning a search for their next General Manager after firing Dave Dombrowski. It seems like a harsh firing on the surface, but his 2019 team have underperformed and will miss the playoffs despite having the largest payroll in the majors and a luxury tax bill of over $13 million. The trend in baseball is to go for a younger, analytical GM, and whoever it is will have a number of priorities and questions when building their 2020 roster.
The downfall of their 2019 season. $77 million for 306 innings at a 4.83 ERA. Chris Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi were supposed to be a strength for the Sox, but injury and underperformance intervened to ruin the season.
Both Sale and Price can be expected to perform better. Both had fielding independent pitching numbers in the mid-threes which suggests some bad luck. The bigger concern is if they can stay healthy. With Eduardo Rodriguez having a breakout and the likelihood that Sale will bounce back next year the rotation isn’t in terrible shape. However, it will need to be reinforced with more durable arms in the offseason.
They must replace Craig Kimbrel. They have 27 blown saves, the second worst in the majors and 7 relievers have recorded saves. Despite this, the middle relief has been fine, and Brandon Workman has an ERA just above two.
There are certainly pieces to work with in the pen once a legitimate closer is acquired.
Will Smith should be a target after a good year closing for the Giants. The new GM must be careful though, improving a bullpen through free agency is costly and unreliable – as the Colorado Rockies have discovered.
Bob Nightengale has reported that the Red Sox will likely try to reduce their league high payroll which will make it harder to acquire a closer via free agency whilst keeping all their position players. There will need to be some creative trades and bargain signings to supplement their core within these reported restraints.
Only Triston Casas (90) is a top 100 prospect in the Red Sox system, and it is routinely ranked in the bottom five farms in the Majors.
This will not help the new GM; it is very difficult to make impact trades with very few prospects. There is also unlikely to be a major rebuild of the system. There is still a very good position player core and they are far more likely to use the Yankees and their ‘rebuild whilst still winning’ model.
Trading Mookie Betts has been suggested as a way of decreasing payroll and adding young talent. With just one year to go before free agency the Red Sox have a potentially franchise altering decision looming. It can be argued that freeing up $30 million in payroll and getting a good return may be more valuable to Boston, as they would still have Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez (if he doesn’t opt out).
An extension will probably be somewhere between what Bryce Harper and Mike Trout got last offseason, which is a lot for a team with plenty of big commitments already. A team with World Series aspirations should keep their best players, even if it means a lesser return via a qualifying offer or at the trade deadline.
Still a great job
Ultimately not many would turn down the chance to lead the Red Sox’s Baseball Operations. They have a huge market and are willing to spend and have some of the best young talent in the league on their roster who won it all less than a year ago. Big teams are often able to rebuild whilst still winning, and that is what the new GM will hope to achieve.