The Red Sox were the fourth-worst team in baseball last season, finishing 16 games out of first place in the American League East. Their roster needs at least two starting pitchers, an outfielder and probably a second baseman.
But general manager Brian O’Halloran said Monday the Sox still intend to compete for a postseason spot next season while at the same time setting a foundation for repeatable success.
“Both of those things are important,” O’Halloran said. “We want to and expect to compete for the postseason and beyond in 2021. But as we’ve stated numerous times our long-term goals are to be competitive and have a championship-caliber team year in and year out.
“We need to continue to work on the long-term piece of that as well.”
That balance will be difficult to strike. Climbing out of the cellar in an increasingly competitive division will require an immediate infusion of talent. But long-term viability entails a careful use of resources.
‘“Absolutely it’s a challenge … But certainly, we have nothing to complain about here. No excuses. We have the resources that we need to build good teams.”’
Red Sox GM Brian O’Halloran
“That’s the challenge for every team. It’s always one eye on the present and one eye on the future,” O’Halloran said. “Some teams may be in a position where they’re a little bit more focused on the short term and some teams may be in a position where they’re a little bit more focused on the long term.
“Absolutely it’s a challenge … But certainly, we have nothing to complain about here. No excuses. We have the resources that we need to build good teams.”
The Sox should improve regardless given how little production Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez provided last season and the expected return of front-line starters Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale.
Sale is on track to return from Tommy John surgery during the season while Rodriguez is preparing as he normally would after missing last season after contracting the coronavirus.
“I don’t think that we think we’re the fourth-worst team in baseball,” O’Halloran said.
Monday was to have been the first full day of baseball’s annual Winter Meetings. But what has often been a launching point for transactions was canceled because of the pandemic and the scheduled events are being held via video.
But even when they’re staying at the same hotel, executives tend to communicate via text message, emails, or phone calls. The Red Sox actually hoped to hold more in-person meetings with other teams. But that plan, like so many others, was scrapped.
Teams also aren’t sure how the coming season will be conducted.
For now, spring training is scheduled to start in February followed by a 162-game season with 26-man rosters.
But, privately, many executives are expecting the season to be pushed back in hopes a vaccine will allow for fans to attend games.
Major League Baseball sent teams a memo saying the designated hitter would not be used in the National League next season. But that could change contingent on negotiations with the Players Association.
▪ Free agent center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is “definitely” on the team’s radar according to O’Halloran said. The Sox expect Benintendi to stay in left field.
▪ As the Sox work on agreeing to a one-year contract with Rafael Devers to avoid an arbitration hearing, O’Halloran said the team would consider a long-term deal.
▪ Dustin Pedroia, who cannot play because of a chronic left knee injury, remains on the 40-man roster. O’Halloran acknowledged having had discussions with Pedroia’s agents about the former second baseman’s future but did not provide details.
Pedroia has one year and $12 million remaining on his contract.
▪ The Rule 5 Draft is Thursday. O’Halloran would not rule out the Sox making a selection. They picked infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros organization last year. He appeared in 25 games.
▪ The Yomiuri Giants have made righthander Tomoyuki Sugano available to MLB teams via the posting system. Sugano, 31, is now one of the top starters on the market and the Red Sox are among the teams expected to pursue him.
Teams can negotiate with Sugano through Jan. 7.
▪ Utility player Yairo Munoz cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple A Pawtucket. The Sox now have 38 players on the 40-man roster.
Munoz, who turns 26 next month, was 15 of 45 with six extra-base hits in 12 games.
▪ Media reports in Puerto Rico said Rogelio Moret passed away at the age of 71 of cancer. The lefthander was 41-18 with a 3.43 ERA with the Sox from 1970-75.
Moret appeared in four playoff games in 1975. That included a perfect eighth inning in Game 6 of the World Series when he retired Pedro Borbon, Pete Rose, and Ken Griffey Sr. on seven pitches.