On Monday’s edition of MLB Network’s morning show Hot Stove, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal predicted the the Red Sox would end up signing free agent starting pitcher Max Scherzer before the offseason is over.
Of course predicting something isn’t at all relative to reporting something, so don’t take Rosenthal out of context here. But as a reporter that has been around the block more than a few times, Rosenthal’s prediction can be taken more seriously than Johnny-twitter spouting off some outlandish scenario in which one of the best starters in the game signs on the dotted lines with Boston. But even with a well respected prediction on the matter, Scherzer doesn’t seem any closer or farther away from becoming a Red Sox than he has all offseason.
At the surface, the soon-to-be 30-year old would undoubtedly be a welcomed addition to Boston’s lack-luster rotation. Over the last three seasons, Scherzer has been one of the games best and most consistent starters, holding a 3.24 ERA and averaging 32 starts per season. In 2013, the right-hander enjoyed a Cy Young award winning season by winning 21 games and posting a 2.90 ERA over 214 innings pitched. While still in the prime of his career, the Missouri native finds himself among some of the best strikeout pitchers the game has ever seen. Scherzer’s 9.61 career K/9 ranks eighth all-time, just above Rangers great Nolan Ryan and just below Hall of Fame newcomer Pedro Martinez.
Numbers never lie. Scherzer is great, but the Red Sox know this and aren’t questioning the legitimacy of his numbers. Instead, Boston’s concerns lie in the type of commitment and price tag that come with inking Scherzer.
After declining the Detroit Tigers 6 year, $144 million contract extension offer last offseason, Scherzer went on to enjoy the second best year of his seven year career. Subsequently, the righty isn’t expected to sign for anything less than what Detroit offered him last spring. Therefore, if the Red Sox want to sign Scherzer, they’ll need to surpass their 6 year, $135 million offer to Jon Lester; an offer that Boston felt pushed the envelope on their “rules” regarding signing pitchers in age 30 season to lucrative contacts. For Boston, passing on home grown, well-studied starter like Lester in favor of signing a pitcher only known through competition like Scherzer defies simple logic. Lester was a battle tested commodity in Boston, and transformed into an ace in a Red Sox uniform. Scherzer’s exposure to Boston, on the other hand, includes a whopping 6 career starts at Fenway Park.
Like I said before, the numbers don’t lie with Scherzer. He’s been one of the best in the game, and has numbers that brush shoulders with some of baseball’s greats. However, with starting pitchers, Boston is more interested in paying for what a player will do in the future, instead of what they have done in the past. Much of Boston’s reasoning for acquiring starters like Rick Porcello and Wade Miley was due to the fact that they’re entering their prime years. Shelling out a deal upwards of 5 or 6 years to a high mileage starter like Scherzer would probably be worth it for 3 seasons, but data suggests that starters pitching into their 30’s have a history of steadily declining, and becoming deadweight in payroll.
Moral of the story: Scherzer is enticing, but the Red Sox are right to steer clear of him.
- Once upon a time, Daniel Bard was the gem of the Red Sox bullpen and seemed like the heir apparent to take over the closers role. But after begging the team to let him join the starting rotation in 2012, things quickly spiraled out of control for the right-hander. After starting just 10 games and being demoted to the bullpen, Bard’s troubles followed him until he found himself back in the minor leagues. Two years and three teams later, the 29-year old is mental and physically healthy and appears poised to sign a minor league deal this offseason. (Ex-Red Sox setup man Daniel Bard healthy, ready to bounce back)
- Don’t hold your breath on a Cole Hamels trade, because it no longer appears to be in the cards. According to reports, the Red Sox and Phillies haven’t discussed the veteran left-hander in over a month. Philadelphia reportedly will not budge on centering a trade around Mookie Betts or catching prospect Blake Swihart. Likewise, Boston will not cave and include either Betts or Swihart in a package. (Phillies non-rumors: Phillies have not talked to Red Sox)
- As they’re currently constructed, the Red Sox are set to post a record setting payroll to open the 2015 season. Of course Boston’s payroll of $193 million is subject to change after factoring in trades and/or signings, but the team’s uptick in salary represents their willingness to exceed the $189 million luxury tax threshold under the right circumstances. Moreover, Boston’s commitments this season will not spill over into next year, which allows the team to remain flexible. (Red Sox payroll on track to be larger than ever to start the season)
- We’re still more than a month away from any baseball action, that’s not stopping John Farrell from predicting the Red Sox batting order. The third year Boston manager envisions hitting newcomer Hanley Ramirez in the cleanup stop behind designated hitter David Ortiz. Following Ramirez, Farrell would like to bat Pablo Sandoval fifth and Mike Napoli in the sixth spot. (John Farrell just handed out his January lineup card)
- Tweet of the day: Guess we won’t be seeing any bubble blowing from Adam Jones this year.