Why Red Sox may slow-play free agent market amid starting pitcher spree

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Tomase: Expecting Sox to join run on pitching? Don’t hold your breath originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Chaim Bloom would've made a good writer. He's unfazed by deadlines.

Bloom carried Mookie Betts all the way to spring training in 2020 before consummating the deal that sent him to the Dodgers. Last offseason, the following players did not arrive until February: Kiké Hernández, Garrett Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura and Marwin Gonzalez. Bloom also traded Andrew Benintendi that month and shortly thereafter added free agent Danny Santana.

At this year's MLB trade deadline, he watched fellow contenders like the Yankees, Blue Jays, and A's improve significantly. He stayed the course with an injured Kyle Schwarber and inconsistent reliever Hansel Robles, and was rewarded with a trip to the American League Championship Series.

It should therefore be clear that Boston's chief baseball officer does not feel the pressure to act simply because a clock is ticking or his competitors are in a frenzy. I suspect he'd happily spend three months formulating an offseason plan and then one week executing it.

Tomase: How will Red Sox fill E-Rod's void in the rotation?

It's one of the many ways in which he's the polar opposite of predecessor Dave Dombrowski, who identified problems and then announced, "Well, what are we waiting for?" 

During the memorable winter meetings of 2016, for instance, Dombrowski basically finished his shopping in one day, trading for Chris Sale and Tyler Thornburg and signing Mitch Moreland. Dombrowski, it should be noted, built a juggernaut in 2018.

Bloom operates more deliberately, which is why I'm not optimistic about the Red Sox joining the run on starting pitching that began with them losing one of their own Monday. 

When Eduardo Rodriguez agreed to a five-year deal with the Tigers, dominoes started tumbling. The Blue Jays reportedly reached a seven-year extension with ace Jose Berrios, and the Angels followed with a speculative one-year, $21 million contract for oft-injured Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard.

The Red Sox need starting pitching, too, but given what we know about Bloom, it's hard to imagine the Red Sox crashing that party anytime soon. The case for action is simple -- baseball will probably shut down on Dec. 1 when the collective bargaining agreement expires and the owners exert their leverage by instituting a lockout. Immediately, all league business will halt, including trades and free agency, while the players and owners negotiate a new CBA.

Teams that act now can lock in some certainty before whatever comes next. Maybe Berrios's reported $131 million extension will look like a bargain when the dust settles. Maybe the compensatory pick the Angels surrendered for Syndergaard will be a small price to pay. Maybe clubs that build now won't be scrambling to assemble rosters in March.

Bloom's a planner, not a plunderer. ... He has waited out less chaotic markets than this one.

John Tomase

The flip side -- and where I'd expect Bloom to land on the spectrum -- is that anyone signing big contracts now is flying blind. The new CBA could alter everything from free agency to arbitration to draft-pick compensation to payroll ceilings and floors. Better to have plans in place and react to whatever system is implemented, even if it means compressing the entire offseason into March or April.

The Red Sox could always shock us and shell out big money for Justin Verlander or Marcus Stroman by Thanksgiving, but I'm skeptical. Bloom's a planner, not a plunderer, and we know he can find a bargain, whether it's trade (Nick Pivetta), free agency (Hernández), or even the Rule 5 draft (Garrett Whitlock).

He has waited out less chaotic markets than this one. Red Sox fans hoping for nuclear strikes on the heels of such an unexpectedly rewarding season should probably plan to practice some patience.