10 MLB non-tenders the Red Sox could consider signing
Monday's non-tender deadline came and went with only one marginal surprise from the Red Sox, who declined to offer arbitration to infielder Marco Hernandez, even though he was only projected to earn about $700,000.
The Red Sox tendered Jackie Bradley Jr., traded backup catcher Sandy Leon, and retained pretty much everyone else.
The rest of the league was mighty active, with a record 56 players being non-tendered, including multiple All-Stars, a pair of 30-homer hitters, and two pitchers who have received Cy Young votes.
The Red Sox, with their multiple needs and self-imposed limited resources, should be active in the non-tender market. Here are 10 names they may consider.
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Phillies
The Phillies cut bait with Hernandez rather than pay him nearly $12 million in arbitration. The Red Sox, with a need at second base, could explore a deal with the switch hitter, whose primary skill is a high on-base percentage (.352 lifetime, 95 walks in 2018). He's on the downside as a defender, though, and would serve as a roughly league-average stopgap at second.
UPDATE (Dec. 24): Hernandez has a agreed on a one-year, $6.25 million deal with the Indians.
2. C.J. Cron, 1B, Twins
Red Sox boss Chaim Bloom has experience with Cron, who joined Tampa in 2018 and then delivered a career-high 30 homers. He followed up with 25 last year in Minnesota, and could provide some right-handed pop as the Red Sox try to figure out how to fill first base. Cron was expected to earn $7.7 million in arbitration.
UPDATE (Dec. 21): Cron has signed a one-year, $6.1 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.
3. Yimi Garcia, RHP, Dodgers
What a strange 2019 season for the 29-year-old reliever, who was one of the toughest pitchers in baseball to hit (.178 batting average against) and one of the easiest to take out of the park (15 HRs in 62.1 IP). Garcia is an extreme flyball pitcher in the launch-angle era, which is not a great combo, but he was only due to make $1 million in arbitration and he strikes out more than a batter an inning with a mid-90s fastball.
UPDATE (Dec. 20): Garcia has signed a one-year contract with the Miami Marlins.
4. Blake Treinen, RHP, A's
Ever hear how relief performance can be volatile from year to year? Meet Treinen. In 2018, he made a legitimate case for AL Cy Young, riding an unhittable slider to nine wins, 38 saves, and a 0.78 ERA. Last year, his walk rate more than doubled, his strikeout rate plummeted, and he lost his job as Oakland's closer while posting a 4.91 ERA. If his problems are mechanical, anyone fixing them would end up with a steal.
UPDATE (Dec. 11): Treinen has agreed to sign a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
5. Ryan Buchter, LHP, A's
While Treinen may be the bigger name, Buchter was the better pitcher in 2019, going 1-1 with a 2.98 ERA and nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Walks have been an issue throughout his career (4.0/9), but he owns a lifetime 2.86 ERA in 257 relief appearances.
6. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Reds
Once upon a time, Gausman was the top prospect in the Orioles system and a consensus top-20 prospect in the game. Now he's an intriguing swingman who could appeal to the Red Sox as either a fifth starter candidate or bullpen arm. He muddled through a nothing season in the Atlanta rotation (3-7, 6.19) before shifting to the bullpen in Cincinnati and flourishing, striking out 29 in 22.1 innings.
UPDATE (Dec. 10): Gausman has signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants.
7. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Diamondbacks
Five years ago, Walker was considered maybe the best pitching prospect in baseball, on par with Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole. He possessed a mid-90s fastball, darting cutter, and hammer curve, and earned a promotion to Seattle at age 20. Injuries have stalled him ever since, and he has made just four appearances over the last two seasons, thanks to shoulder and elbow issues. The Red Sox may be leery of adding another injury-prone starter, but Walker is still only 27, with tremendous upside.
8. Travis Shaw, 1B, Brewers
If life is about timing, then Shaw's is pretty rotten. Traded from the Red Sox three years ago this week in the regrettable Tyler Thornburg deal, Shaw posted back-to-back 30-homer seasons before falling off the map in 2019. He hit just .157 with seven homers in 86 games as one of the worst players in baseball. Still only 29, the left-hander can also play second and third, and perhaps could rediscover his mojo where his career began.
UPDATE (Dec. 22): Shaw has reportedly agreed to terms with the Blue Jays on a one-year, $4 million deal.
9. Kevin Pillar, CF, Giants
Now we start getting into the if/then portion of the offseason. As currently constituted, there's no room in the Red Sox outfield for Pillar. But if either Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. is moved, the defensive whiz could plug a hole. Red Sox fans recall Pillar making highlight-reel plays in center for the Blue Jays for years, and last year he added some pop, launching a career-high 22 homers, somehow earning an MVP vote.
10. Charlie Culberson, UT, Braves
Culberson is more of an outfielder than infielder for a utility guy, but he'll probably command half as much as Brock Holt, and has some big hits on his résumé as a member of the 2018 Braves. He was hit in the face and broke his cheekbone, ending his season last September.
UPDATE (Dec. 16): Culberson will return to the Braves organization on a minor-league deal.