The season ended sooner than any of us hoped. The baseball Gods have started to whisper, "Wait till next year!"
Here's a look at what we have to work with this winter...
The 40 (39) man roster- listed by roster seniority: (Possibly on bubble underlined- some due to having no options remaining)
Pedroia, Buchholz (option), Wright, Vazquez, Holt, Bradley, Workman, Bogaerts, Brentz,
Betts, Hembree, Kelly, Barnes, Swihart, Shaw, Rodriguez, Sandoval (a possible placed on the Castillo/Craig plan), H Ramirez, Porcello
Ross, Marrero, N Ramirez, Johnson, Owens, Kimbrel, Jerez, Hernandez, Young, Price, Smith, Elias
Rutledge, Leon, Pomeranz, Abad, Benintendi, Holaday, Scott, Moncada
(Players with no options remaining: Wright, Vazquez, Brentz, Hembree, Sandy, HanRam, Porcello, Elias, Leon, Pomeranz, Abad, Holaday)
Rule 5: assuming no acquisitions (unlikely), we have room to add one rule 5 player to our 40 man roster, unless we DFA one of the underlined players above. The following players will be eligible for the December 2016 Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to the 40-man roster by November 20, 2016:
Danny Bethea, Ty Buttrey, Jamie Callahan, Carlos Coste, Allen Craig, Jake Drehoff, Jeff Driskel, Jeffry Fernandez, Pat Goetze, Reed Gragnani, Taylor Grover, Justin Haley, Juan Hernandez, Dedgar Jimenez, Raiwinson Lameda, Anyelo Leclerc, Tzu-Wei Lin, Deiner Lopez, Austin Maddox, Kyle Martin, Mike McCarthy, Daniel McGrath, Simon Mercedes, Mike Meyers, Mike Miller, Yankory Pimentel, Tim Roberson, Javier Rodriguez, Jake Romanski, Dioscar Romero, Ramses Rosario, Teddy Stankiewicz, Aneury Tavarez, German Taveras, JT Watkins, Jordan Weems, Jantzen Witte, Luis Ysla
Assuming Buch’s option is taken, Hanigan’s is not, and all our free agents are not included in our 2017 starting point, here's how I see our 2017 depth chart at each position. I am placing some players at multiple positions, if they are better than whatever else we have there.
SP: Porcello, Price, ERod, Wright, Pomeranz, Buchholz (assuming option given)
Kelly, Elias, Owens, Johnson, Haley, Cuevas, Kopech (not 2017: Groome)
RP: Kimbrel, (Buchholz, Pomeranz or Wright), Smith, Kelly, Ross, Barnes, Hembree
Abad, Scott, Workman, Ramirez, Martin, Jerez
C: Leon, Vazquez, Swihart, Holaday, Romanski, Butler
1B: Ramirez, Shaw, Swihart, Pablo, Holt, Travis, Longhi (not 2017: Ockimey)
2B: Pedroia, Betts, Moncada, Holt, Hernandez, Marrero (not 2017: Dubon)
SS: Bogaerts, Hernandez, Holt, Marrero (not 2017: Dubon)
3B: Bogaerts, Shaw, Moncada, Holt, Hernandez, Pablo, Rutledge, (Swihart?), (not 2017: Devers)
LF: Betts, Benintendi, Young, Bradley, Swihart, Holt (not 2017: Basabe)
CF: Betts, Bradley, Benintendi, Young, Holt
RF: Betts, Bradley, Benintendi, Young, Holt, Swihart
DH: Ramirez, Young, Moncada, Pablo, Castillo, Witte
In my mind, nobody is untouchable, but clearly there are guys you try very hard to hold onto. Here's my top 15 list of who to keep (in order with last controlled year):
1) Betts (2020-I might try to lock him up soon.)
2) Benintendi (2022- He's got several more years of team control than Bogey & Bradley)
3) Bradley (2020- Hope for more consistency)
4) Bogey (2019- just 3 yrs left- Dubon in the wings)
5) ERod (2021 or 2022- still has enormous upside)
6) Moncada (??- still has top value)
7) Porcello (2019- high priced but indispensable)
8) Pedey (2021- still a force but will likely decline)
9) Groome (??- far away but with a lot of promise)
10) Kopech (??- may be ready by mid 2017)
11) Swihart (??- I feel many GM want this kid.)
12) Devers (?? May be blocked.)
13) Wright (2020- 4 years is nice)
14) Vazquez (2020- hope his offense pick up)
15) Leon (2019- likely to see his offense reduced)
With three catchers in my top 15 and the catcher situation in MLB at a near all time low, I'm pretty sure that if a blockbuster is made, Swihart or Vazquez will be included. With Swihart's value higher at catcher, I think he's the one to go. With 3B in question, one could argue for keeping both Moncada and Devers until we know which one we want. I'm thinking we don't have that luxury. We are going to have to choose one and trade the other. Depending on whom our trading partner is and if they want a more immediate payoff or not, I'm thinking we may get a 1 year bridge at 3B and go with Devers. Moncada has tremendously high trade value.
I'm not devaluing these kids, but I think it might make more sense to trade Moncada and Swihart as part of a package to get an ace type pitcher. I think those two offer a great start to a phone call.
Now, let’s look at the contracts and luxury tax implications. (Contract cost is the average yearly salary, including bonuses, which is what the luxury tax uses.)
Under contract for 2017 (7 players): $30M Price, $22M H. Ramirez, $20.6M Porcello, $19M Sandoval, $13.75M Pedroia, $10.5M Kimbrell, $6.5M Young.
(Note: Castillo's$10.25M Castillo and Craig's $6.2M contracts do not count on the luxury tax budget, if they remains off the 40 man roster.)
Options ( 2 players): $13.5M Buchholz and $3.75M Hannigan
TOTAL: $1.3M (buyouts) 0 to $17.25M (giving both)
Let’s assume we say yes to Buch and no to Hanigan’s ($800K buyout):
Updated TOTAL: $137.65M
Arbs (9 players):
Bogaerts:$650K > ~$6.0M (1st of 3)
Bradley: $546K > ~$4.0M (1 of 4)
Pomeranz $1.35M> ~$3.5M (2 of 3)
J Kelly: $2.6M>$2.7M (2 of 3 arbs)
Ross: $1.25M> $1.6 (2 of 3)
Holt: $606K > $1.3M (1 of 3)
Leon: $minor > $1.2K (1 of 3)
Rutledge: $minor> $850K (1 of 3)
Workman: $540K > $600K (1 of 3)
TOTAL ARBS: ~$21.85M
TOTAL of 16 players: ~$159.5M (with Buch)
The 24 other players on the current 40 man roster (listed by seniority on the roster): Wright, Vazquez, Brentz, Betts, Hembree, Barnes, Swihart, Shaw, E Rodriguez, Marrero, N Ramirez, B Johnson, Owens, Jerez, Hernandez, Carson, Elias, Holaday, Scott, Moncada
Grand Total: ~ $173M
Now, add the $12M for player benefits and our Luxury Tax Total is...
That leaves us with about $4M to spend without going over the luxury limit as it is right now ($189M), however, the limit is expected to rise to over $200M and perhaps closer to $210M.
If we assume it will be about $210M next year, which leaves us with about $25 to 30M to spend and stay close to or under the luxury tax. It is my understanding that the Sox luxury tax will be 50% next year, so I think there is interest to reset that number.
$25 to 30M may appear like a lot of money, but finding a replacement for Papi (DH, 3B, LF or 1B) will not come cheap. We will probably also need 2-3 quality RP'ers and maybe a SP'er upgrade. If we don't try to spend big to replace Papi, we will probably acquire an aging vet to 1-2 year deal who plays corner IF (Turner/Todd Frazier?) and/or DH/ LF (Beltran?). There are countless ideas out there to improve this team and try to make up for the loss of Big Papi. I welcome your ideas, suggestions and critiques.