We learned through watching the Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series Championship the necessity to load your pitching staff with talent.
It’s not just essential to have a rotational and bullpen ace, but you also need solid bridge arms to help piece together a game. So for every Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler, you need a Tony Gonsolin or Julio Urías.
For the Red Sox, they seem a ways away from that. While Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez should return to action in 2021, the talent behind them is lacking. To return to October in 2021, they not only need to solidify the top three of their rotation, but they also need to round it out with solid arms in the four- or five-slot.
Not many names jump out at you as potential frontline starters when you look at the market—Trevor Bauer, James Paxton, and maybe Marcus Stroman. However, there are far more options to round out your rotation than headline it.
Let’s take a look at some that should be on Chaim Bloom’s radar.
Kevin Gausman – RHP – San Francisco Giants
Gausman has been something of a peripheral darling for a couple of years. More so since he got traded from Atlanta to Cincinnati in 2019.
Since Aug. 8 of last season, Gausman has posted a 3.73 ERA, a 3.11 FIP, and a 3.15 SIERA across 27 appearances (11 starts). Used primarily as a starter in 2020, the right-hander posted a 3.62 ERA, a 3.09 FIP, and a 3.24 SIERA in 12 appearances (10 starts). He’s also been striking guys out at a 32.1 percent clip since becoming a Red in 2019.
Before salaries got prorated for 2020, Gausman was supposed to make $9 million this season. Given his performance across the last calendar year and change for the flamethrower, you’d have to figure his market value rests in the $14-$17 million range per year.
Potential deal: three years, $49.5 million
Alex Wood – LHP – Los Angeles Dodgers
Wood was someone I had pegged to be a Red Sox signing last offseason. He seemed like the perfect buy-low option, with the potential to be considerably rewarding.
He struggled at times in 2020 for the Dodgers but became a lethal weapon for them in October. In 6.2 postseason innings, Wood posted a 1.35 ERA, a 2.59 FIP, and a 27.6 percent strikeout rate. His October performance shouldn’t have come as much surprise, as Wood has always been good when healthy.
Besides, some of his struggles are exaggerated, as he got incredibly unlucky on his changeup in 2020. On 65 uses (23 percent of his pitches for the season), opponents posted a .513 wOBA and a .929 slugging percentage. However, the xwOBA was just .266, and the expected slugging was .433. While the latter still isn’t impressive, it’s a far cry from .929.
With Wood’s struggles in consecutive regular seasons, his market shouldn’t be overly expensive––perhaps neighboring on a deal similar to the one he took last offseason. If he’s low-risk again, it should be a no-brainer for the Red Sox.
Potential deal: one year, $4.5 million –– club option for 2022 ($7.5 million)
Brad Peacock – RHP – Houston Astros
Peacock only made three appearances in 2020, so it’s not exactly fair to judge his performance.
However, since 2017, he’s been one of the most effective pitchers in the American League–both as a reliever and a starter. Peacock has made 121 appearances (37 starts) and has posted a 3.49 ERA, a 3.59 FIP, and a 3.61 SIERA. He’s also struck out 29.3 percent of batters and walked just nine percent.
Not to mention he’s just three seasons removed from being in the top 10 percent of major league pitchers for xBA (.193), xSLG (.313), xwOBA (.272), xwOBACON (.334), strikeout rate (29.5 percent), and xERA (2.98).
Unfortunately, his hard-hit rate has increased each year since 2017, but not enough to be considered damning to his ability to be a positive impact. He’ll be 33 in February, so the likelihood of him landing a massive payday is slim. He could fall right into Chaim Bloom’s lap, giving the Red Sox a guy who can fill in as a starter as well as come out of the bullpen.
Potential deal: two years, $6 million