Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman isn’t under contract for 2020. There is no evidence that suggests he would leave Los Angeles given how he has helped set up the team for long-term success. But he has yet to agree to a new contract.
Team president Stan Kasten expects it to happen. But until Friedman signs a new deal, the Red Sox have to at least investigate the possibilities. He would be a perfect choice.
Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim (pronounced HIGH-em) Bloom fits the Sox’ criteria. He’s a rung below Erik Neander in Tampa Bay’s structure but has been influential in putting the roster together.
The Rays have won only six fewer regular-season games than the Red Sox over the last two years spending despite roughly $333 million less on payroll.
Friedman left the Rays for the Dodgers and instilled financial discipline while remaining successful. Bloom could do the same for the Sox. The Dodgers combine enviable financial resources with creativity, something the Red Sox need to get back to.
“Look, we’re fortunate. We have really smart people that can evaluate talent,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve kind of prided ourselves, this organization, for many years, on maybe finding the players that have fallen through the cracks a little bit.
“We’ve got a handful of them on the roster right now that are main pieces to what we’re trying to accomplish. Ton of credit goes to the front office for recognizing that.
“It’s easy to turn away on a guy, a young player that doesn’t come out of the gate on fire but does some special things under the surface. And I think we’ve got a bunch of those guys who do that.”
Bloom is from Philadelphia and has in-laws in the Boston area. That doesn’t hurt.
Another executive sure to get a long look is Mets vice president and assistant general manager Allard Bard.
Baird was with the Red Sox from 2006-18 before going to the Mets. He was a key adviser to Theo Epstein and was GM of the Royals from 2000-06.
Baird has the experience John Henry and Tom Werner want and is familiar with the Sox. Friends say he would be interested in returning to Boston.
The same is true for Diamondbacks senior vice president and assistant GM Jared Porter.
Porter, a Minnesota native who was raised in Massachusetts, was with the Sox from 2004-15, primarily in scouting capacities. He joined the Cubs for parts of two seasons and has been with the Diamondbacks for three years.
Under GM Mike Hazen, Porter took a lead role in building up that organization. The Diamondbacks also got good talent back in their trades of star players Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke.
As the Sox contemplate trading Mookie Betts or somehow finding a taker for David Price, Porter would arrive with a blueprint on how best to do that and get something worthwhile in return.
It’s also possible the Sox could hire a president of baseball operations and a GM, which would complicate the process.
“We’re studying different structures,” team president Sam Kennedy said. “We could go in any number of directions . . . part of our job in ownership is to examine what fits best with us.”
Porcello entering a new world
Rick Porcello, who turns 31 in December, will enter free agency hoping that prospective employers will focus more at the entirety of his career and not his 5.52 earned run average this season.
Porcello has averaged 185 innings over 11 seasons and has been on the disabled list once in his career. That has value. Take away this season and his career ERA is 4.26.
For now, he waits to see what options are out there.
“This is all new to me,” Porcello said on the final day of the season. “I’m not sure what to do.”
Porcello purchased a home in Naples, Fla., a few years back to have a place to live in the offseason that was close to JetBlue Park. But he can’t work out there anymore and instead plans to stay in New Jersey and work with a trainer there.
The one advantage Porcello could have will be the lack of reliable starters on the market. Outside of Gerrit Cole, there’s Stephen Strasburg (if he opts out of his contract) followed by Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, and Cole Hamels.
That the Red Sox almost certainly won’t make Porcello a qualifying offer will help his marketability.
“No regrets,” Porcello said. “I loved competing in Boston and for this team. We’ll see what happens.”
Some other observations on the Red Sox:
■ Outfielder Jarren Duran hit .310 with an .842 OPS in his first eight games in the Arizona Fall League.
The 23-year-old, a seventh-round pick out of Long Beach State in 2018, ended last season in Double A Portland. He struggled there, posting a .634 OPS in 82 games, after tearing up the lower levels.
If Duran shows he can hit advanced pitching, he could give the Red Sox an outfield option at some point in 2020. That would make it easier to deal Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. this winter.
■ The Sox finished with 901 runs, fourth in the majors. Eight teams scored 845 or more runs. The Sox were the only ones not to make the postseason.
■ Led by Rafael Devers (54) and Xander Bogaerts (52), the Sox led the majors with 345 doubles. That was a franchise record, too.
■ Drew Pomeranz pitched two perfect innings for Milwaukee in its wild-card loss against Washington. He also batted in the seventh inning and struck out.
Pomeranz left the mound with a 3-1 lead. The Nationals then scored three in the eighth when Juan Soto cleared the bases off Josh Hader.
Pomeranz was on the World Series roster for the Red Sox last fall, replacing Brandon Workman, but never got in a game.
So unless Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly somehow does it, Pomeranz will be the only member of the 2018 Red Sox to get an at-bat in the postseason this year. Nobody could have expected that.
Pomeranz had a 1.88 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 28 relief appearances this season and should do well in free agency. For his career, opposing hitters have a .596 OPS when Pomeranz is a reliever. It’s .749 when he starts.
■ The News-Press in Fort Myers reported that City of Palms Park could soon be torn down.
The Sox used the park for spring training from 1993-2011, playing games at the 8,000-seat stadium.
Lee County built the Sox a new complex and City of Palms has gone largely unused since, outside of occasional small college or amateur games. Upkeep of the stadium costs $500,000 a year with revenues of only $32,000.
Fort Myers wants to use the location as part of a redevelopment project to bring new housing and businesses to the area.
There was once talk of a third team joining the Red Sox and Twins in Fort Myers. But other Florida cities were willing to build new facilities.
■ Former Red Sox coach Arnie Beyeler was let go by the Orioles. He was their first base coach and outfielder instructor this season.
Job security slim for managers
Terry Francona, who has managed the Indians for seven years, has the longest run in the majors at his current job. The Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Padres, Royals, and Pirates are all looking for new managers. That number could climb if the Phillies fire Gabe Kapler.
Only 11 teams have had their current manager in place for three or more seasons.
Craig Counsell, who became the Brewers’ manager during the 2015 season, is the longest-tenured manager in the National League.
Kevin Cash has been with the Rays for five years. The other four managers in the American League East have a combined six seasons.
“Managers have no chance these days,” said a former manager, who didn’t want his name to be used. “The GMs have the ears of the owners and blame the managers for what goes wrong. It’s a revolving door.
“Analytics guys project a certain number of wins and when the team finishes below that, the manager pays. But who says the projection was right?”
Joe Maddon is a one-man tornado of transactions. When he opted out of his deal with the Rays in 2014, the Cubs fired Rick Renteria after only one year on the job to hire Maddon.
When Maddon and the Cubs parted ways after this season, the Angels fired Brad Ausmus after only one season, and the expectation is they will hire Maddon.
Even managers of playoff teams know there’s little security.
“I tell people, you’re never guaranteed tomorrow in this business,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You’re never guaranteed in life. That’s why you live for today. You worry about today because you can’t control what’s going to happen tomorrow.
“I don’t sit and think about all that. I know all those guys [who were fired] and they’re really good baseball men. But we all know there are 30 of these jobs in the world. And you’d better cherish each and every day of it because you’re never guaranteed tomorrow in this business.
“It doesn’t matter how good you’ve done or what you’ve done; you’re always based on today. I do think how blessed I am to have this opportunity, but I don’t feel like by any stretch that I can just sit there and lay down and this thing’s going to continue to happen.”
Follow the money
Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, Yusei Kikuchi, A.J. Pollock, Andrew McCutchen, and Craig Kimbrel signed free agent deals worth more than $40 million. Only Corbin and Pollock made the playoffs.
The upper middle class of free agency proved much more fruitful for teams. Sixteen players signed for between $20 million-$39 million, and 10 of those players made the postseason.
The Yankees were particularly smart, landing Zack Britton, J.A. Happ, Adam Ottavino, and DJ LeMahieu for relatively modest deals and getting a combined 11.8 WAR.
The Braves also made a smart move with their one-year, $23 million deal for third baseman Josh Donaldson after he played 52 games in 2018.
Donaldson had a .900 OPS over 155 games, drove in 94 runs, had 16 defensive runs saved, and provided leadership to a young team.
“He’s meant the world to this club,” Snitker said. “He solidified our team. He lengthened our lineup. He strengthened our club. And quite frankly, he’s one of the best third basemen I’ve ever been around.”
Donaldson, who turns 34 in December, will go back into free agency with a chance to land a multiyear deal. The Braves would love to have him back.
For all its ingenuity in fielding contending teams, Oakland has not won a playoff series since 2006, when it swept the Twins in the Division Series then got swept by the Tigers in the ALCS. The A’s have lost nine consecutive elimination games, a record. “It’s frustrating. It’s very sudden,” manager Bob Melvin said after losing the wild-card game against the Rays. “Baseball, usually you have a series to kind of have a tomorrow and come back and win a game. And we’ve been really good this year about having a tough game and coming back and responding. There’s no responding in a game like this. It’s a little out of the norm for baseball. Both teams battled to get to this point and knew it would be one and out. They just played better than we did.” . . . Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge on the mentality of the modern hitter: “I feel like there are so many shifts and so many different things going on in the game, why would I want to put the ball on the ground for the most part? Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s on the ground, it’s an out. I just feel like hitters have changed their mind-set. I’m going to try to do some damage. I’m going to get my A swing off as much as I can rather than take a B or C swing and put it on the ground and it’s an out. I’ve got three strikes. Why not take three chances to get one out of the park? That kind of changed the game.” . . . Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was asked about facing the Dodgers in the Division Series after losing against them in the same round in 2016. “That’s in the past. It happens, it happens,” he said. “You think about your girlfriend that broke up with you like 20 years ago? Probably not.” . . . Braves lefthander Dallas Keuchel on the postseason: “When I got my first taste in ’15 of the playoffs, it was like getting that most favorite toy on Christmas, like your most favorite toy ever. And once you play in the postseason, you don’t want to miss out on it anymore.” . . . The Orioles and former vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson have parted ways. It was a rapid fall for Anderson, who gained considerable power within the organization in 2017-18. He had a role in player development, free agent negotiations, and even as an occasional hitting coach for players on the major league roster thanks to his connections with ownership. But that ended when the Orioles gave full control to general manager Mike Elias . . . Here’s wishing a happy 60th birthday to Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, one of the great characters in Red Sox history. He was 60-56 with a 4.15 ERA from 1982-89. His nickname went back to high school, drinking moonshine from old oil cans. The Can last pitched in 1995 for the independent Brockton Rox and still pops up from time to time at Fenway Park. Darren Oliver, who turns 49 Sunday, played for nine teams over 20 years in the majors, including 14 games for the Sox in 2002. Let’s not forget Joel Hanrahan, who is 38. He was traded to the Sox in 2012, coming over from the Pirates with an infielder few took notice of. It was Brock Holt.
The Giants will move the bullpens at Oracle Park to center field and right-center field next season, which will change the dimensions of the outfield. The bullpens had been on the sidelines beyond the dugouts since the park opened in 2000.
- Tigers are only scratching the surface
- D-backs have problems everywhere
- Diamondbacks could be big players
- Free-agent market could be frenzied
- Moneyball still relevant for MLB today
- Tigers’ Victor Martinez suffers torn ACL
- Where’s the managerial hot seat?
- Hunter deal has ripple effects
- B.J. Upton one of many to reject offers
- Free agents reject $13.3M deals as GMs head home