Nathan Eovaldi

MLB Rumors: A scenario emerging where the Red Sox hang on to Mookie Betts?

MLB Rumors: A scenario emerging where the Red Sox hang on to Mookie Betts?

Chaim Bloom may have sent Sandy Leon to the Cleveland Indians on Monday, but the Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer has much bigger decisions ahead. 

It was reported months ago that the Sox would attempt to move superstar Mookie Betts this offseason, but it seems that things have taken a turn. ESPN's Jeff Passan now is reporting baseball executives across the league think a trade involving Betts is unlikely to happen. 

If a Betts' trade isn't going to happen, Bloom will need to cut payroll elsewhere -- but how? 

Passan reports that Boston is looking to cut salary by trading a pitcher, and a prominent one at that. David Price or Nathan Eovaldi, who were instrumental to the Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship, reportedly are on the trading block. 

The Red Sox obviously are interested in locking up Betts to a long-term deal, but the right fielder would more than likely test the free-agent market after the 2020 season.

If Boston traded any of those players, they possibly could have a difficult season ahead. Betts hit .295 with 29 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .915 OPS in 2019 -- not to mention his stellar play in the field. It was a rather down year for Red Sox pitchers, but Eovaldi managed a 3.33 ERA, 48 strikeouts and a 3-3 record in 2018 with Boston. Price also had a down campaign in 2019 but had a 16-7 record the previous campaign with a 3.58 ERA and 177 strikeouts. 

While the rumor mill is heating up, it doesn't seem like any trade is imminent. 

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MLB Rumors: Rangers have had 'internal discussions' about trading for Red Sox starter

MLB Rumors: Rangers have had 'internal discussions' about trading for Red Sox starter

The Chaim Bloom era has begun in Boston, and if Red Sox ownership is determined to cut costs on its roster and build a sustainable contender, one team may be able to help them out. 

According to a story by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers have had 'internal discussions' about pursuing one of the Red Sox' top starting pitchers in a trade. 

Grant notes the Rangers' need for starting pitching and the fact that they have money to spend, assuming they don't get Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg in free agency. Given Boston's hopes to cut payroll and rebuild their farm system, the Rangers could be a natural match. 

He also speculates that the two pitchers Texas could target are David Price and Nathan Eovaldi, who the Red Sox owe a combined $147 million to over the next three seasons. It's hard to imagine Bloom getting a substantial return for either of them if he's cutting a good chunk of the payroll, but Bloom made a name for himself finding value on the margins in Tampa, especially with pitchers. 

The Red Sox still have to see what J.D. Martinez decides to do. He has the ability to opt-out of the remaining three seasons of the five-year, $110 million deal he signed two years ago. If he opts in or signs a new deal with the Red Sox, Bloom might have to trim money off of the Red Sox payroll sooner rather than later. 

Dave Dombrowski delivered a World Series in his time as President of Baseball Operations, but he certainly left a mess that Bloom now has to clean up to keep this team in contention for years to come. It all starts this winter, where fans will get a good idea of what the direction of the franchise will be, and it might start with some trade talks with the Rangers. 

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Five pressing issues Chaim Bloom will need to address on Day 1 as Red Sox boss

Five pressing issues Chaim Bloom will need to address on Day 1 as Red Sox boss

Now that Chaim Bloom is headed to Boston, the real fun begins.

Hiring a decision-maker was the first priority of the Red Sox offseason, but in a way, it was the easiest item on the to-do list, since even if the Red Sox remained within the organization, they were assured of making a strong hire. Outside of Bobby Valentine, John Henry and Co. have proven over the past 20 years that they don't screw up their management choices.

With a source confirming that Bloom is headed to Boston as director of baseball operations -- as first reported by the New York Post's Joel Sherman -- the ex-Rays exec must get quickly up to speed on the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of his new organization.

He'll have help, with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reporting that the Gang of Four (Brian O'Halloran, Eddie Romero, Zack Scott and Raquel Ferreira) will remain in Boston and assistant GM O'Halloran will be promoted to general manager.

That said, there's no time to waste, so let's lay out some of Bloom's most pressing issues.

1. TRADING MOOKIE BETTS

There's really nowhere else to start, right? As we laid out earlier, Bloom (alongside Tampa GM Erik Neander) was aggressive about dealing veterans for youth out of necessity in Tampa. The closest they came to dealing a player the caliber of Betts is when they sent franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to the Giants in December of 2017. The return has thus far proven underwhelming, though the deal did allow the Rays to get out from under roughly $60 million of the final $86 million on Longoria's deal, money they used to build back-to-back 90-game winners.

Betts will be a free agent next fall, so he's not locked in like Longoria was. There aren't a lot of comps to suggest what Boston might receive in return, but contenders like the Braves and Phillies should be among Bloom's first calls.

One aspect of this deal to watch will be whether Bloom seeks straight prospects in return -- as he generally did in Tampa -- or proven big leaguers. Speaking of which . . .

2. REPLENISH THE FARM SYSTEM

Be prepared to see a slew of veteran-for-prospect trades this winter, because the Red Sox desperately need to infuse one of the game's thinnest minor league systems with youth. The good news is whatever internal evaluations Bloom made of opposing organizations in Tampa can come with him to Boston.

The Rays were particularly adept at identifying talent in seemingly minor deals, whether it was landing corner infielder Yandy Diaz from the Indians to help facilitate a three-way trade involving sluggers Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion, adding reliever Ryan Yarbrough (27 wins in 2 years) in a package for Drew Smyly, or snagging hard-throwing reliever Emilio Pagan in another three-way deal with the Rangers and A's. Oh, and while the Red Sox don't regret a thing about the deal that brought them Nathan Eovaldi in 2018, the Rays have been happy with left-hander Jalen Beeks.

So where might the Red Sox stop chopping . . .

3. MOVE JACKIE BRADLEY JR., AMONG OTHERS

The Gold Glove center fielder (he's a finalist again this year) has had a tumultuous Red Sox career, earning ALCS MVP honors in 2018, but struggling to deliver anything remotely resembling offensive consistency.

Now that he's due more than $10 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, he's no longer cost-effective. He will almost certainly be dealt this winter, presumably for prospects.

Another name to watch is catcher Christian Vazquez. He's coming off a career year and due more than $10 million over the next two years, but the advanced analytics aren't as kind to him as numbers like his 23 homers, and catcher is a position the Rays often viewed as pretty fungible -- they've employed five different primary starters in the last six years.
Put another way: everyone is on the table.

4. JETTISON A STARTER

In David Price, Chris Sale, and Eovaldi, the Red Sox feature a trio of contractual albatrosses who are due $79 million in each of the next three seasons. For the Red Sox to regain control of their payroll, at least one of them has to go -- Price seems like the best bet -- but good luck making that happen. All three are injury risks, and moving on from any one of them would represent the definition of selling low, before we even take into account how much money the Red Sox would have to eat.

Doesn't matter. Financial flexibility depends on it.

5. EVALUATE SYSTEMS

This should probably be No. 1 on the list, because long-term, it's the reason Bloom is here. Tampa was renowned as one of the most forward-thinking organizations in the game, but the Red Sox had lagged under Dombrowski, focusing their attention on maximizing the big league roster at the expense of the farm system, not to mention the next generation of data integration and evaluative tools that could not only improve the lineup, but help identify trade targets. So that's the list, but it's by no means comprehensive. The real work starts. . . now.

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