The Jake Peavy deal was the official opening of the 2015 Hot Stove season. For all but $2M remaining on Peavy’s contract, Boston got two high end arms on which to dream, and develop.
Lefthander Edwin Escobar, 22, had been the focus of several teams’ interest earlier in the season, although his success has been spotty in the Pacific Coast League. Heath Hembree started as the AAA closer, has been up and down, but two different executives from other teams Saturday said they had tried to acquire him as a potential eighth inning guy.
So the 2015 tryout begins, as the Red Sox admit they want to determine where Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Steven Wright, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson all fit in the next 12 months.
Ben Cherington made it clear Saturday that nothing else is imminent this weekend, but between now and Thursday afternoon he will field dozens, maybe hundreds of calls. On Jon Lester, who is not going to get signed before free agency. Can the Dodgers, Cardinals or even Lester’s hometown Mariners be talked into a Randy Johnson-type deal for two months?
On Andrew Miller, who thus far has attracted the most interest, from the Braves to the Dodgers to the Pirates to the Nationals…They want to re-sign him, but it isn’t going to happen before he hits the market.
On Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, Felix Doubront, Mike Carp, probably not Koji Uehara, who would be hard-pressed to turn down a qualifying offer. As the two months play down, they want to see if Will Middlebrooks, healthy, makes adjustments to utilize his (rare) righthanded power. They need to let Mookie Betts play. They need to try to restore the comfort level and confidence of Xander Bogaerts, whose positive trait of being overly accountable has turned into a setback in his progress. They need to continue to allow Jackie Bradley, Jr. to adjust at the plate, and they may want to see how Deven Marrero, Travis Shaw, Sean Coyle and Blake Swihart look in the big leagues. Not to mention any outfielders they acquire.
The time between the deadline and spring training will be trying. Lester and Miller would be very difficult to replace. They need power, and the free agent market is thin in terms of position players. A general manager, who sees that the union is far more involved in contracts, wants star players to go to free agency and will make it far more difficult for clubs to tie up young players to longterm deals, says, “in four or five years you’re going to see a lot of great young players go to free agency in their twenties, the Trouts, Harpers, Machados…It will be a different market world.” Adds another GM, “it will be great for the Yankees and Dodgers.”
Six months ago, just the thought of Lester being traded was unfathomable. Now, while not inevitable, it is fathomable, and discussable.