Options to boost off-field offensive production


Looking for options to increase Red Sox outfield production

The Boston Red Sox are on a roll, at least as of May 10 this season. How fast it can turn back and forth, and this one has been a marvel. The Red Sox catapulted themselves into the hunt for the playoffs and broke through the .500 level of play.

On each show, the banter until nausea mentions the remarkable change in the dynamics of the offense. Or, to quote Dennis Eckersley with his usual and now agonizing repetition, “It’s a beautiful thing.” Yes, this is despite the tiring replication.

The numbers play out from that fateful Sand Day line in May. The Red Sox replicate their historic brethren in clubbing teams and leading or near the American League in every offensive category. And that pitch may not be stellar but more than passable, but something is wrong with the lineup.

Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story (occasionally) are happy to beat. An offensive juggernaut that’s fun to watch unless you’re up on the hill overlooking a slider at night. Three of the aforementioned players are infielders and one is a designated hitter. Where oh where are the outfield club brothers?

According to FanGraphs, they are comfortably in 13th place among American League outfield contingents. Collectively they have an fWAR of 0.5. The 77 wRC+, .281 wOBA, .353 Slugging and 15 home runs are some of the worst in the AL. There is no need for selection statistics because “it’s not a nice thing”.

There is a collective effort on this swamp. Enrique Hernandez is well behind last year’s numbers as his 71 wRC+ is well below 2021’s 110 wRC+. Franchy Cordero seems to have hit a snag or gone back to what Cordero always was. Jackie Bradley Jr. is JBJ, which translates to a leather glove and a rubber bat. Christian Arroyo is flirting with the Mendoza Line, and Alex Verdugo is another victim of wRC+.

The defense is quite solid and, in metrics, among the best in the AL if you genuflect before the altar of the UZR/150. In 2021 even without JBJ, the outfield wasn’t chopped defensive liver with a seventh-ranked ranking.

Last year, the defense didn’t have Bradley, but the offense had Hunter Renfroe; now the loss of Renfroe and a degrading performance from those previously mentioned has impacted the outfield numbers. Those homers from Renfroe and RBI are missing, and Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder won’t replace them.

I didn’t like the deal with Renfroe, but I could understand it with the two perspectives that were part of the package. In the long term, this may be an extremely smart move by Chaim Bloom, but in the short term, it is not. Is Jason Bay still available?

Where do you find a productive right hand bat – preferably – with power and a glove that is not a decoration? Aaron Judge would be fine, but I too would win Power Ball. There are about 20 teams that have a reasonable goal of being in the playoffs, so I tend to reject trades in that direction. I look to the “Sisters of The Poor,” or those teams whose only chance of making the playoffs is to join the Korean Baseball Organization.

I’d go south first for my speculation on Charm City and the switches Anthony Santander. Santander has hit 11.2 BB% this season, hit 11 home runs and hasn’t been a defensive disaster. Santander is approaching heavy-money refereeing and could be a good band-aid for a season or two.

The Reds have a veteran Tommy Pham, and the 34-year-old could provide reasonable depth of power for the Red Sox outfield. He’s cutting .250/.346/.415 with eight home runs this season. Pham has brutal numbers from Fenway Park (.180), but age and salary ($6 million) could make it a 10-20 prospect deal. A better option than Santander.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have an “Oh my God, what would it take?” guy in the defensive center Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds is in the first year of a two-year contract ($13.5 million) and has good power numbers. Detaching him from the Pirates would be quite a task. But hey, I can dream.

right handed Randal Grichuk can bring back memories as Grichuck hit 90 homers (2018-21) for Toronto before being shipped off to the Rockies. Grichuck is a free swinger (career 5.6 BB%/26.6K%) and has “meh” defensive stats, but that could be cheap, especially with the Jays already funding part of the contract. Grichuck, like Pham, is a former cardinal, always a plus.

Is there buyer’s remorse in Miami after signing Jorge Soler? Soler is a former World Series MVP, AL home run champion and AL scent leader. Soler is a human mountain of muscle, demonstrated when he logs on. Soler can also make Manny Ramirez look like at the high water mark for Outfield Defensive Skill (Career -30 DRS). As much as Soler can provide the bat, there are far too many negatives to this full-time DH on hold and a hefty contract. No. A no for me.

That’s my shortlist, but there are no doubt potential free agents pending who could be thrown into the mix, but Pham would be my pick. Money is not an overwhelming issue, and Pham’s cost in prospecting for gold would be limited. Pham won’t kill you on defense and can still smoke the ball enough to boost the Red Sox’s offensive numbers.


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