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Tomase: Feels like Bloom, Sox are ready to pounce in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Apparently this needs to be said -- the Red Sox have no plans to start the 2021 season with their current roster.
If fans are getting restless over the slow pace of the offseason, that's a baseball problem, not a Red Sox problem. Take away two pitchers who accepted qualifying offers, and only one of Keith Law's top 20 free agents has signed (Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim). At Fangraphs, that numbers is two (add reliever Liam Hendriks), and at MLB Trade Rumors it's a grand total of three (new Mets catcher James McCann joins the list).
Otherwise, pretty much everyone is available, both big and small.
This is sadly how baseball works now, barely a month away from the supposed start of spring training. No one signs until everyone signs. It's as if MLB decided it needed to make the offseason a metaphor for the game on the field -- unwatchable, interminable, everyone's asleep when it finally, mercifully ends.
But I digress. Even with roughly $30 million to spend before they hit the $210 million luxury tax threshold, it's clear the Red Sox won't be swimming in the deep end of the free agent pool, since there's little point in wasting a compensatory pick at a time when the focus is on building for the future.
That merely rules out a handful of players, however. Even if the Red Sox fail to sign Trevor Bauer, George Springer, DJ LeMahieu, or J.T. Realmuto, that still leaves everyone else, and a competitive team can be assembled from that group without breaking the bank.
And make no mistake, the Red Sox will act.
There remains the time and available talent for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to take a stab at a 2013-like overhaul that doesn't necessarily address long-term concerns, but at least makes the Red Sox viable while the real work happens behind the scenes. The odds of hitting on another class of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, and Koji Uehara and waltzing to a World Series may be remote, but there's absolutely no reason the Red Sox can't contend for a playoff berth and give us something more watchable than last year's last-place dreck.
In this sense, the market is actually unfolding perfectly. Of the 77 players to agree to either major- or minor-league deals so far, only 10 have signed for more than one year, and only one -- McCann -- has received a four-year deal.
That leaves a lot of good players looking at a lot of two- or three-year offers, which is the sweet spot for a team like the Red Sox.
Imagine if they sign starter Jake Odorizzi for say, three years and $39 million, add second baseman Tommy La Stella for two and $12 million, trade outfielder Andrew Benintendi for pitching, and then create room to splurge on a slugger like Marcell Ozuna over four years if they really want to make a splash.
Fill out the bullpen by identifying the right arms, as Bloom's Rays did year after year in Tampa, add one more starter -- maybe two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who threw in front of teams Wednesday and is not expected to command a long-term deal -- and the Red Sox are in business.
If there's one misconception about Bloom, it's that he wants to turn the Red Sox into Tampa North. The fundamentals of building a recurring contender through a strong farm system may be the same, but he's not going to ignore the part where he gets to spend money, too.
So show just a little more patience, Red Sox fans. There will be countless opportunities over the next month to make targeted strikes via free agency and trades, and rest assured, the Red Sox will take them.