SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Red Sox aren’t necessarily shopping Alex Verdugo, but chief baseball officer Craig Breslow readily acknowledged that other clubs are interested in the 27-year-old right fielder.
Verdugo, who is eligible for free agency after the coming season, has been a productive regular the last four seasons. But he also created doubt about his future with the Sox by twice being benched for disciplinary reasons this past season.
“Obviously he’s a guy that other teams have kind of reached out on given the situation,” Breslow said on Wednesday during the General Managers Meetings. “But I don’t think we’re in a position to commit to anything. We have to look at every opportunity, every interaction with another club or with an agent as a chance to get better. Where that lands, we’ll see.”
Verdugo was the centerpiece acquisition from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade. Verdugo has since hit .281 with a .761 OPS.
His .745 OPS this past season was below the league average of .754. But Verdugo added to his value with consistently strong defense and was a Gold Glove finalist.
“Had some conversations with him, feels like he’s committed to performing as best he possibly can,” Breslow said.
Verdugo is one of four lefthanded-hitting outfielders on the 40-man roster. As the Sox look to improve their pitching staff, trading from that surplus is one distinct possibility.
“We’re trying to understand who are the guys that are going to be part of the core in the future and who are the guys that maybe we can repurpose into pieces that will help fill voids in other areas,” Breslow said.
(Translation: Not everybody is staying on the team.)
With the Sox seemingly in need of two starting pitchers, acquiring one via trade and another in free agency is a route the Sox could follow.
“It’s safe to say we will cast a wide net,” Breslow said. “We will talk to representatives of a host of [free agent] starting pitchers. We will also talk to teams that currently have controllable starting pitching and maybe have a surplus of it.”
Whether Tanner Houck or Garrett Whitlock ultimately land in the rotation is uncertain. But the righthanders have been told to prepare as if that will be the case.
“We will build guys out as starting pitchers and give them every chance to claim a rotation spot,” Breslow said. “I’ve yet to meet a team that has too much starting pitching depth and I think the transition is easier going from the rotation to the bullpen . . . But we value those guys as starting pitchers.”
No decision has been made on Josh Winckowski, who started only one game this past season.
“I would not commit to saying he’s exclusively a bullpen guy,” Breslow said. “Also don’t want to make any proclamations without having had a chance to talk to him.”
Over the next two weeks, the Sox plan to set an offseason plan for the returning players.
Boras weighs in
Standing on a box in front of a banner with his company logo, agent Scott Boras took on all questions. His opinion of the Red Sox after meeting with Breslow? “They certainly appeared as though they really wanted to remove themselves from the standing of where they are now and get to a competitive level. That was a very clear message on their part,” Boras said . . . Jarren Duran (left big toe surgery) and Triston Casas (right shoulder inflammation) are healing up. Duran is doing weight-bearing exercises in his physical therapy and Casas is set to begin a hitting program in 3-4 weeks . . . Other than to say hello after he landed the job, Breslow has not had an extensive conversation with Chris Sale. But that is on the agenda. Sale has been injured for much of the last four seasons and the Sox are hoping a revival is brewing. “Is there uncertainty? Sure,” Breslow said. “But right now he’s healthy and we’re going to do everything we can to keep him that way.” . . . Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes, a Fall River, Mass., native, explained his decision not to interview for the position that eventually went to Breslow. “I love the [Dodgers], and my family and myself feel very fulfilled and feel great about the position we’re in,” Gomes said. “I think it was more about how much I love it here and the people I work with than anything about the Red Sox. Obviously, it’s a storied franchise. It’s where I grew up and there’s a ton of great things about it.” At least seven executives from other teams declined entreaties from the Red Sox after Chaim Bloom was fired in September . . . Rafael Devers, Chris Martin, and Justin Turner were the only Red Sox nominated for the All-MLB team, which will be selected via online voting. There were at least seven finalists at every position.