CARLSBAD, Calif. — Even with J.D. Martinez declining to exercise the opt-out on the final season of his five-year, $110 million deal, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had no hesitation when asked at the general managers meetings whether the team will still pursue a reunion with free agent Kyle Schwarber.
“Yeah, we will. We like Kyle. He fits us,” said Bloom. “We are well-staffed at [the positions Schwarber plays], but we had all three of those guys here down the stretch and that was when we were playing our best. And that was with him learning something on the fly that we saw him making progress and doing. Obviously, we’ll see how it all plays out, but we absolutely would love to have him back.”
The GM meetings mostly represent an opportunity to lay groundwork for the rest of the offseason. On Tuesday, Bloom said that most of the work being done by the Red Sox related to organizational personnel rather than meetings with agents and teams. He suggested that most of what the team will do while here is likely to set up work for later in the winter, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of making moves in the near term.
“We just want to make sure that if somebody else wants to work on a certain timetable that we’re responsive, and if it’s something that makes sense for us that we can push, we’re going to do it,” said Bloom.
Yankees missed on Whitlock
Red Sox manager Alex Cora at times would joke during the season with Yankees GM Brian Cashman about the fact that the Red Sox plucked reliever Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in last December’s Rule 5 draft.
“I wasn’t laughing at those jokes,” grimaced Cashman.
Whitlock emerged as one of the most valuable relievers in the American League, going 8-4 with a 1.96 ERA for the Sox in 73⅓ innings. Cashman acknowledged that he didn’t foresee the dominance that the righthander would achieve in 2021, particularly given that his velocity had typically been at 93-94 miles per hour with solid if unspectacular secondary pitches (changeup, slider) the last time he’d pitched as a Double A starter in 2019 — before Tommy John surgery that wiped out the end of that year and left him rehabbing throughout 2020.
Cashman recalled an interview he conducted last offseason in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft, taking note of the lack of information that came with a canceled 2020 minor league season.
“I said, ‘Some teams are going to have some big-time mistakes,’ ” said Cashman. “And obviously, it turned out that it came back to bite us. He was rehabbing from Tommy John and the player that arrived Day One in spring training wasn’t the player that left us. It was just a completely different animal with a lot more juice on his velo … Boston obviously took advantage of it. And they wound up with a gem. So kudos to them and disappointment for us.”
Bloom said Whitlock and Tanner Houck continue to be seen as capable of being big league starters.
“I think we’d be foolish to cut off the upside of them being starters at some point,” said Bloom. “And that point could be next year, but it depends how it all shakes out.”
Devers staying at third
While Bloom said the Sox wouldn’t rule out the possibility of introducing Rafael Devers to first base at some point, he said the team hasn’t had any conversations on the subject, and the Sox continue to view Devers as third baseman. Bloom added that Devers is expected to have a normal, healthy offseason after resting his right elbow.