Teams are prohibited from contacting players or making any transactions until the lockout is lifted, but every front office still has a plan for areas to target once they’re allowed to again add to the roster. Last night, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom met with media (including Alex Speier of the Boston Globe) to address the team’s priorities whenever activity resumes.
“We still would like to add more pitching,” Bloom said. “Short relievers, that’s something we have yet to address in meaningful fashion.” Bloom went on to add that the Sox would continue to be involved in the market for position players, pointing to a right-handed bat as a particular bonus in the wake of the trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee for Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects.
As Bloom suggested, Boston has yet to upgrade the late-innings mix, at least directly. The Sox’s signings of James Paxton, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill figure to have trickle-down effects on the bullpen. Wacha may be better suited as a multi-inning reliever than as a traditional starter. Even if all three pitchers assume rotation roles (Paxton is expected to miss the first few months of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery), their additions could afford the flexibility for Boston to use Garrett Whitlock and/or Tanner Houck in relief.
Whitlock spent the entire 2021 season as a reliever, eventually emerging as Boston’s top late-innings arm. The former Rule 5 draftee worked 73 1/3 innings of 1.96 ERA ball with plus strikeout, walk and ground-ball numbers. Boston has expressed openness to stretching him back out as a starting pitcher — as he’d been in the minor leagues — but their rotation additions could give them comfort in keeping Whitlock in the late-game role in which he thrived.