SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The GM meetings are usually pretty sleepy. There's lots of groundwork-laying and tire-kicking and temperature-taking and tea-leaf-reading and trial-ballooning as teams assess what moves might be available at next month's winter meetings.
But the Red Sox and new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom need to hit the ground at a brisk jog, because their offseason projects to be about as sleepy as Al Pacino in "Insomnia." And that makes this week's meetings at the Omni Resort more intriguing for Boston than any team in baseball.
The Red Sox could be in the market for, in no particular order: a right fielder, center fielder, first baseman, second baseman, closer, starter, depth starter, swing starter, break-glass-in-case-of-emergency starter, and however many relievers they can afford with what's left.
That's a hellacious to-do list, especially since item No. 1 will come into play if defending MVP (we can still call him that for a couple of more days) Mookie Betts is traded to ease a payroll crunch that's been exacerbated by the $79 million the Red Sox will pay question-mark starters Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi. Speaking of which, the Red Sox probably wouldn't mind trading one of them.
Bloom couldn't deal Betts this early in the offseason even if he wanted to, because it would require a willing partner, and see paragraph No. 1 for insight into how most teams approach November. But that doesn't mean he can't make some moves around the margins they might nonetheless pay dividends in 2020.
The biggest area of need that can be addressed immediately is the starting rotation. The Red Sox might need to open the season with 10 viable starting options in the organization (including whoever piggybacks with an opener), and that's no exaggeration. Last season, injuries to Sale, Price, and Eovaldi forced a combined 36 starts from Hector Velazquez, Brian Johnson, Andrew Cashner, Jhoulys Chacin, Ryan Weber, Travis Lakins, Josh Smith, Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Bobby Poyner. That group went 3-15 with an ERA that was . . . very bad (6.79, to be exact).
The Red Sox need to fill one actual hole in the rotation with a replacement for free agent Rick Porcello, who could return at a reduced salary, though moving on from a man who has posted a 4.79 ERA since winning the 2016 Cy Young Award probably makes sense. They then will need enough depth to account for any possible injuries to Sale, Price, and Eovaldi, two of whom underwent surgery last season and one of whom (Sale) still might.
That could mean taking a flyer on someone like former Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, a former well-regarded prospect who just became a free agent after refusing to be outrighted to the minors. Injuries have limited him to only 11 starts over the last two years, but he's only three years removed from winning 11 games and throwing nearly 200 innings while posting a 3.65 ERA.
That's the kind of player the Red Sox will be in the market for, thanks to their self-imposed payroll limitations. Bloom helped unearth gems in Tampa over the last three years, and the Red Sox hired him to do the same here.
With free agents Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce gone, a first baseman will be on the agenda, too. While the team could go internal with some combination of Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec, there should be no shortage of first basemen available on the market, including 25-homer Brewers slugger Marcus Thames and National postseason hero Howie Kendrick.
As for bullpen, the Red Sox have already made one move, signing former White Sox left-hander Josh Osich. There will undoubtedly be more like him to follow as the Red Sox look to upgrade beyond top four relievers Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Josh Taylor, and Darwinzon Hernandez.
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