With the offseason in full swing, the Boston Red Sox still look to be far away from the level of competitiveness that their fanbase has become accustomed to. Their roster is still full of holes that need to be filled as the beginning of spring training draws near. Although the team recently added Kiké Hernandez and Garrett Richards, neither of those moves are likely to put this roster over the top. So, here are the five best free agents that the Red Sox should try to sign before the season begins.
Trevor Bauer- SP
Is this a long shot? Yep. But no list of the best free agents left on the market would be complete with the reigning NL Cy Young winner. He would immediately turn a Red Sox rotation that seems like a weakness into a strength. Chris Sale is coming off of Tommy John surgery and likely won’t pitch until July, if at all this season. Eduardo Rodriguez missed last season due to complications from COVID-19. Nathan Eovaldi has battled serious injury issues throughout his career, but when healthy is dominant with his overpowering fastball. Even the newly signed Garrett Richards has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Signing Bauer would give the rotation a huge boost and give it the potential to be among the best in the league if Sale, Rodriguez and Eovaldi all get and stay healthy. Would Bauer sign with a team that doesn’t look to be directly on the doorstep of contention? Maybe not. But without a doubt, Bauer is the top free agent left and the Sox should absolutely give him a call.
Marcell Ozuna- OF/DH
This guy can straight up rake. For his career, he carries 162-game averages of 27 home runs, 97 RBI’s, and a .276 average. But last season, in just 60 games, he smacked 18 homers, 56 RBI, and hit .338. The 2017 Gold Glove winner is also no slouch with the glove, and with Jackie Bradley likely on his way out of town, the Sox are in the market for an outfielder even after their addition of Hunter Renfroe. If the Sox do end up trading Andrew Benintendi, which some MLB insiders have said the team is looking to do, that’s a big hole the need to fill in their outfield. Adding Ozuna to an offense that already has studs like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers would create an offense instantly capable of leading the league in runs scored.
Alex Colome- RP
The Red Sox bullpen is a piece or two away from being an asset to the team, and Colome is absolutely capable of being one of those pieces. With the signing of Brad Hand to the Washington Nationals, the Sox need to act fast before all the best relievers are gone. Colome is coming off a very strong 2020 season that featured 12 saves and a miniscule 0.81 ERA. This experience in the 9th inning is important in a Red Sox bullpen that needs a few arms to really become a strength for the team. Too many times last year their relievers let leads that the offense worked hard to build slip away, so somebody like Colome who is coming off one of his best seasons is a great fit. A potential combination of him and Matt Barnes in the late innings would certainly make Sox fans more comfortable with a lead down the stretch of games than what the team had last year, especially after trading Brandon Workman to Philly.
Jonathan Schoop- 2B
The Red Sox need a second baseman. As of now, their starting second baseman is probably Kiké Hernandez, who is much better served in a Brock Holt-type super utility role. Schoop would be able to come in and assume the starting job right away. Though he doesn’t hit for the highest average, only .259 for his career, he brings pop to the second base position. Although health has occasionally been an issue for him, he has 162-game averages of 27 home runs and 79 RBI. The Sox have had trouble finding consistent second base play ever since Dustin Pedroia suffered the knee injuries that have effectively ended his career, but Schoop could finally provide some stability at the position. Even if the Sox don’t want to give a long-term contract to a 30-year-old who strikes out as much as Schoop, a one- or two-year deal could be a great investment.
Mitch Moreland- 1B
Old friend Mitch Moreland would be a great fit for this team off the bench. As the team lines up now, six of the team’s starters are right-handed hitters, and there really aren’t many lefties anywhere on the roster. Bringing in Moreland to back up Bobby Dalbec at first base and provide some veteran leadership off the bench is a great idea for this team. He’s a great defender to be able to bring into close games in the final innings, and we all know that he knows how to pinch hit.
After trading at last season’s trade deadline with the team far out of contention, they could look to bring him back now after a half season in San Diego. He had only good things to say about the team when he left, and certainly had good memories from their World Series season only two seasons before. Bringing back Mitch Moreland could be a sneaky steal in this offseason that hasn’t featured many fireworks so far.
While the Red Sox look like they may be far from contention, in reality this is a team that could be right back in the postseason if they just fill a few holes. Certainly, they won’t sign everyone on this list. But signing one of them, if not more, would go a long way for the Sox this season. With just over two months until the season begins, there is plenty of time for Boston to add to their roster and fight once again in the highly competitive AL East.
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