Tomase: MLB playoffs will be loaded with Red Sox castoffs chasing rings originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Red Sox may have officially been eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, but that doesn't mean they won't be well-represented when the postseason begins.
Considering only the pool of players jettisoned by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom since 2019, there's enough talent still alive to build a representative starting nine, and that's without slugger Hunter Renfroe, whose Brewers were eliminated on Monday night.
There may not be enough pitching to win an entire round, but the middle of the batting order could steal one of the old winner-take-all wild card games.
Catcher -- Christian Vazquez, Astros
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It remains beyond baffling that Bloom could trade his popular starting catcher without then conducting a full yard sale at the trade deadline. Keeping J.D. Martinez and Nathan Eovaldi did nothing to quell clubhouse discontent, but it helped the team finish last. Vazquez hasn't done much in Houston, batting just .238 and splitting at-bats with Martin Maldonado, but Red Sox fans need no reminder of his capacity for postseason heroics, like the walkoff homer to beat the Rays in the 13th inning during last year's ALDS.
1B -- Kyle Schwarber, Phillies
The NL home run champion with 46, Schwarber has proven to be a wise investment for former Red Sox honcho Dave Dombrowski. Schwarber just helped the Phillies end their playoff drought at 11 years, and the Red Sox could've used his winning pedigree when they were falling from contention. Schwarber is the perfect example of the Red Sox not recognizing what they have. His four-year, $79 million deal is reasonable for a slugger who draws a ton of walks, and he could've played first base before sliding over to DH next year.
2B -- Marwin Gonzalez, Yankees
OK, we've admittedly gotta stretch things a bit in the middle infield. Gonzalez has done for the Yankees pretty much what he did for the Red Sox -- play everywhere without hitting much at all. He has posted a .579 OPS for the second straight season, appearing everywhere except catcher and center field. Let the record show that he retired the only batter he faced on the mound, so he could be a reliever on this roster in a pinch.
3B -- Yairo Munoz, Phillies
Again, not the most inspiring choice, but the only choice. Munoz opened eyes at the end of 2020 by hitting .333 for the last-place Red Sox, but alas, it did not last. They released him last fall and he hooked on with Philly as a utility player, batting .211 in 29 games.
SS -- Yolmer Sanchez, Mets
With such a limited player pool, the pickings also be slim at short. Sanchez won a Gold Glove with the White Sox at second base in 2020 before spending most of this season as minor-league depth at Triple-A Worcester. He hit just .108 in 14 games for the Red Sox before briefly joining the Mets as a defensive replacement, appearing in three games.
OF -- Mookie Betts, Dodgers
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Back on track with the former MVP, who has done little to make the Dodgers regret signing him to a $365 million extension. He finished second in the 2020 MVP voting, helping L.A. win a World Series, and he'll get votes again this year after blasting a career-high 35 homers. Betts has become not just a face of the game, but a spokesman for the game, and his loss continues to hang over the Red Sox organization.
OF -- Jackie Bradley Jr., Blue Jays
The Red Sox simply asked too much of Bradley, acquiring him ostensibly to serve as a fourth outfielder and then giving him everyday at-bats in right, where he was exposed before being released. He hooked on with the Jays and hit even worse north of the border than he did in Boston, but he'll likely find a home on Toronto's postseason roster because of his glove in center and right.
OF -- Andrew Benintendi, Yankees
It now feels safe to say that the Red Sox did not receive any talent of note for Benintendi between Josh Winckowski and Franchy Cordero, but outside of winning a Gold Glove, he hasn't done anything to make them miss him, either. The Yankees acquired him to provide more contact than predecessor Joey Gallo and he was moderately successful before breaking his right hamate bone and undergoing surgery. He's unlikely to return before the ALCS, if the Yankees last that long.
SP -- Jeffrey Springs, Rays
The Springs trade points to one of Bloom's weaker areas since assuming control of the baseball operations -- identifying opposing prospects to acquire. When the Red Sox traded the nondescript left-hander to Bloom's former team for highly regarded catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, it seemed like a steal. A top-100 prospect for a junky lefty with a 7.00 ERA? It turns out the Rays knew better. While Hernandez has stalled at Triple-A, Springs is 9-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 24 starts and could end up starting a playoff game
Closer: Adam Ottavino, Mets
At this point in his career, Ottavino seemed to be a known commodity, a veteran reliever with a swing-and-miss slider that didn't always find the strike zone. He struck out over 10 per nine innings last year, but also walked five, pitching himself into and out of Alex Cora's confidence right through the playoffs. If the Red Sox knew what Ottavino would become in New York, however, it's safe to say they would never have let him leave. A primary setup man in front of closer Edwin Diaz, Ottavino has posted a 2.11 ERA in 65 appearances while walking only 15.
Setup men: Collin McHugh, Braves; David Price and Brusdar Graterol, Dodgers
The Red Sox took a flyer on McHugh in 2020, but he opted out because of COVID. He was nails for the Rays last year, at least until the Red Sox teed off on him in the ALDS, and he hasn't missed a beat in Atlanta as Brian Snitker's sixth-inning guy. Price just returned after dealing with a wrist injury for a month, and he remains a weapon in what is expected to be his final season. While Graterol was never officially a member of the Red Sox, let the record show that since they declined to obtain him in the Betts deal over shaky medicals, he has appeared in over 100 games with a 3.64 ERA.