Baseball fans, rejoice! It looks like baseball is back. Earlier Thursday, it was reported that the MLB Owners and Players Union had reached a tentative agreement, end the lock.
🥳BASEBALL IS BACK🥳https://t.co/D6ksAz4Jpw
—ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 10, 2022
The deal was made the day free agency also opened in Major League Baseball. The Boston Red Sox have already been busy this offseason, with acquisitions of James Paxton, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha. But there are still plenty of holes to fill if Boston is to win another World Series.
The Red Sox have been a difficult franchise to understand in recent years. They seemingly go from World Series champions to cellar dwellers, only to return every two years. Last season, Boston was expected to have a bad year, especially with the lack of pitchers on the roster. Still, the Red Sox won 92 games, making the playoffs. They defeated division rivals the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays to succumb to the Houston Astros in the ALCS. But with so much success comes the pressure to take the next step.
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So, let’s take a look at those holes and figure out exactly which free agents the Red Sox should be looking for.
3 free agents the Red Sox need to sign now that MLB is back
3. YUSEMIRO SMALL RELIEF PITCHER
It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox need help. Closer Matt Barnes took a big step back in 2021. Boston promoted kid Garrett Whitlock as the closest. He clearly has the stuff, but will he be able to handle pressure situations consistently.
Ryan Brasier is still there, but beyond those three, there aren’t many guns Boston can rely on.
Yusemiro Petit would fit perfectly into this list. For one thing, he’s a savvy veteran who pitched at Fenway Park. The nooks and crannies of baseball’s oldest park require some inside knowledge. Little to that. However, due to his age (37), the Red Sox can likely sign him relatively cheaply.
Last season, Petit had a great year but was very unlucky. From 2018 to 2020, Petit posted stellar numbers. Then last season he saw his ball ERA 3.92. But his 1.03 WHIP speaks for something else, as does his eight wins out of the pen.
Petit is not a barred artist. He puts the ball in play, which can be dangerous in Boston. But it’s the right kind of move to allow the Red Sox to fill other needs with more money.
2. UTILITY INFIELDER JED LOWRIE
Again, it wouldn’t be the sexiest move Boston could make, but it would be a smart move. Jed Lowrie spent the first four years of his career in Boston in a platoon role. Since his departure, his career seems to take off. Lowrie has been a consistent hitter no matter where he hits in the lineup. It makes good contact, can move around the bases, and is a decent glove in the field.
Last season, the Red Sox got incredible play from Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. But when they needed a rest, substitutes on the pitch were a train wreck. Between Marwin Gonzalez, Danny Santana and Jonathan Arauz, Gonzaled led the trio with a .202 batting average. Yeah, he was the best option on the bench.
Lowrie is a hitter who can hit both left-handers and right-handers. Again, he also knows Fenway. Also 37, the Red Sox would likely get him for a lot less than his last contract. This hopefully allows Boston to go all-in on the number one player on this list.
1. POWER UP FIRST BASE KYLE SCHWARBER
Wait, the best player on this list is someone who was in the team last year. Yes yes it is. There are a number of reasons why Kyle Schwarber should be the top priority.
Most people point to the Red Sox bullpen as a key need. The others are a power southpaw, an outfielder, and a first baseman. With Schwarber, you get all three. Obviously, he’s not very good defensively in the outfield, but you can mitigate that somewhat by playing him in front of the green monster or at first base.
Last year, between his stints in Washington and Boston, Schwarber hit 32 homers. That doesn’t include the four bombs he hit in the playoffs for Boston, endearing him to Red Sox fans everywhere.
He seemed like a perfect fit last season. Finally, Schwarber was in a place where he was simply being asked to smash. He can crush. He actually hit left-handers better than both Red Sox outfielders last season as well. Schwarber hit .313 against lefties last season. He finished in the top 10 in the league in barrel percentage and hitting percentage. On top of that, he reduced his chase rate by seven percent last season.
Ultimately, the outcome of this season will be determined by the performances of Paxton, Hill and Wacha. If they all struggle, which could happen, even if Chris Sale returns to form, it won’t matter.