The Red Sox have yet to make a “splash” during the offseason, but they’ve compiled several veterans that may contribute this season.
The relative slowness of the Red Sox offseason has many fans wondering where GM, Dave Dombrowski, stands on his opinion of the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned and other viable options to fill his role have been stolen by other inquiring teams.
Despite no “splash” moves, other than re-signing Nathan Eovaldi, the Sox have added valuable depth throughout the long offseason. To many, the moves seem irrelevant or non-noteworthy, but often times they can provide necessary contributions. Think about Ryan Brasier – an injury prone reliever that was playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, was signed as depth and earned high-leverage situations in the World Series.
Let’s take a look at which Red Sox signings could provide valuable innings.
Catcher – Oscar Hernandez
In order to begin this segment, it is important to remember that many of these signings represent organizational depth with the potential for more. In this case, Hernandez is nothing more than depth. A career .251 hitter in the minors and .167 at the Major League level doesn’t suggest that the former Arizona Diamondback would provide any more in Boston.
Pawtucket’s primary catcher, Dan Butler, retired over the offseason which will open the door for Hernandez to see regular time in AAA.
Potential Impact: AAA Starter / Emergency MLB option
Reliever – Zach Putnam
The former Chicago White Sox reliever is easily one of the more intriguing signings of the offseason. Putnam’s production at the Major League level was largely hindered due to an extensive injury history. He’s seen the disabled list every season since 2015, but numerically suggests that when healthy, he’s a valuable piece to the bullpen puzzle. He’s posted a career 9.59 K/9 and a 1.23 WHIP.
If you’re looking for something to hang your hat on, look at 2014. In his most recent full season, he posted a 1.98 ERA over 54 innings in Chicago. There’s no guarantee that he’ll reach that production again, but in a low risk signing, there’s plenty to like.
Potential Impact: Regular Bullpen Piece
Outfielder – Gorkys Hernandez
The former San Francisco Giants’ outfielder represents depth in a thin defensive position. Adding Hernandez would likely eliminate Blake Swihart, or Brock Holt, from seeing semi-regular playing time in the outfield and would allow them to play their natural positions.
Offensively, the outfielder has never produced much. He’s a career .234 hitter and never managed over a .256 average in regular playing time. He’s solid defensively, but will merely be depth in Boston. Rest assured, he won’t be stealing playing time from Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. or Mookie Betts any time soon.
Potential Impact: AAA Starter / Replacement OF in Boston
Pitcher – Erasmo Ramirez
At his best, Ramirez is a better version of Hector Velazquez. He’s a jack-of-all-trades type of pitcher that can be utilized in spot starts, relief options, and close in emergency situations. He’s coming off the worst season of his career in which he posted a 6+ ERA, but was utilized in a smaller sample size in Seattle.
Throughout his career, he’s posted a 4.36 ERA. He’s never been great, but using last season as an outlier, he’s never been poor either. Ramirez’ versatility makes him an attractive option for the Red Sox and a very low risk addition to the organization.
Potential Impact: Major League Depth / Spot Starter
Reliever – Carson Smith
Red Sox fans are quite familiar with Smith. He’s always had potential, but never was able to stay healthy throughout his brief tenure in Boston. Smith was acquired in a trade that saw Wade Miley head to Seattle, but both sides never truly saw a return on their investment. He’s thrown a mere 20.1 innings in a Red Sox uniform and most recently required surgery after throwing his glove in the dugout in frustration.
Despite a brief comment in regards to Alex Cora, the organization didn’t find it critical enough to pass on signing him. There’s plenty of upside with Smith and Dave Dombrowski was very understanding of that in bringing him back for a separate tenure in Boston. He’ll look to capitalize on that potential after recovering from shoulder surgery.
Potential Impact: Key Bullpen Piece