Who Will the Red Sox Sign?

Two months ago, I rattled off my way-too-early free agent predictions, predicting that the Red Sox were going to swoop in and snag NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. Even then, I said my judgement might be clouded by my bias towards the Sox. Now, I’m a little more tempered. They probably aren’t going to sign him. Fellow writer Jarrod Ribaudo also commented on this the other day. But, there have been a few names linked to Boston in recent day, so let’s analyze them.

Corey Kluber

The first name I saw connected to the Red Sox in terms of pitching was the former Indians ace. Kluber spent last season with the Texas Rangers, pitching just 18 pitches in one inning before being shut down for the year due to a tear in his shoulder. The year before, he suffered an elbow injury in May that shut him down for 2019. The injuries have certainly driven down Kluber’s market. That said, he was a dominant pitcher from 2014-2018, and definitely deserves some interest on that alone. At 34 after two season-ending injuries, however, he likely won’t be the same pitcher he was. I think it would be a good idea for the Sox to sign him to a one year prove-it deal, especially with Chris Sale sidelined. If you want more on Kluber, check out this article by Kevin Perdios.

Tomoyuki Sugano

Ok, admittedly, I just learned about this guy this morning after reading some tweets about the Red Sox’s interest in the Japanese pitcher.

The 31-year-old righthander is free to sign with MLB teams after being posted by the Yomiuri Giants, his team in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. The NPB’s talent pool is debated as being like AAAA or on par with the MLB, so his stat line this past year a 1.97 ERA and 0.89 WHIP is certainly impressive. He would be coming over much later than fellow pitchers Masahiro Tanaka (25), Daisuke Matsuzaka (26), and Kenta Meada (27), which hurts the appeal, but his NPB stats are on par with them. Wherever he ends up, I could see him with a pitching line somewhere around a 3.60 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. That would be big for the Red Sox after their pitching last year.

Garrett Richards

I haven’t seen any rumors about Richards talking with the Red Sox, but fan site OverTheMonster tweeted today about the possibility of adding him and it intrigued me. He’s had injury troubles over the last few years, and I don’t see that changing at all. But, if he could stay healthy until midseason he might be someone to take a flyer on, even possibly move to the bullpen after Sale comes back in order to help with his injury issues. As long has he isn’t injured by then, that is. Depending on the price, it’s not a bad idea.

Jon Lester

This one goes without saying. Lester was beloved in Boston before being traded to Oakland in 2014. He’s had his share of ups and down since, spending the last five seasons with the Cubs. He’s been durable, starting at least 31 games each year since coming into the league in 2008 (excluding 2020), so that would be a nice change of pace. However, he’s 36 and his play has certainly declined as of late (4.46 ERA in 2019 and a 5.16 ERA in 2020). He had some good games in those two seasons, though, and with his connection to Boston it might be worth bringing him in as a 4th or 5th starter. Maybe you can get one more good year out of him.

Jake Arrieta

Our final starter we’ll be discussing today is former Phillies and Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta. Like Lester, the 34-year-old has had a rough past few seasons. He could be someone who can sign as a 4th or 5th starter and eat up innings while you wait for Chris Sale to get healthy. You won’t expect him to be All-Star level again, but if he can keep his ERA down in the low 4s or so, that would be serviceable. I think I would rather try him or Lester out over Richards.

Those are the top pitchers connected to the Red Sox as of now. Personally, I would like to see Kluber and Lester signed (Lester more for sentimental purposes. Honestly, though, I’m open to trying any combination of these pitchers. What do you think?

– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter)

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