The Red Sox don’t figure to be big spenders in free agency this offseason, as the organization is looking to reduce its payroll to get beneath the $208 million luxury tax threshold in order to reset its penalty schedule. Boston might even subtract a significant player to achieve this goal.
But that doesn’t mean the Red Sox won’t at least dip their toes in the water. And former Major League Baseball front office executive Jim Bowden listed Boston among the “best fits” for a few free agents in a piece published this week by The Athletic.
Bowden, a former general manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, ranked his top 35 free agents and predicted each player’s next contract. He identified the Red Sox as a possible fit for Will Smith (No. 15), Drew Pomeranz (No. 27) and Howie Kendrick (No. 29).
Smith, a left-handed reliever, served as the San Francisco Giants’ closer last season and recorded 34 saves along with a 2.76 ERA, a 3.23 FIP, a 1.03 WHIP and 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 63 appearances spanning 65 1/3 frames. The 30-year-old was heavily pursued leading up to the trade deadline, but the Giants ultimately kept him in the hopes of making a playoff push.
Bowden predicts Smith will land a three-year, $39 million contract on the open market, and he listed the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers among the “best fits” in addition to the Red Sox.
Pomeranz is a name most Red Sox fans already are familiar with, as the left-hander spent parts of three seasons with Boston following a midseason trade from the San Diego Padres in 2016. He pitched well for the Red Sox in 2017 but stumbled in 2018, leading to his departure in free agency after Boston’s World Series victory. Now, he’s coming off a 2019 campaign that featured mixed results, as he was awful for the Giants as a starter to begin the season but then thrived as a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers down the stretch.
Bowden predicts Pomeranz, who turns 31 this month, will secure a two-year, $10 million contract in free agency thanks to his second-half resurgence out of the bullpen. The Astros, Brewers and Braves join the Red Sox as Bowden’s “best fits” for the veteran southpaw.
And finally, Kendrick is a utility player who has been around for a while. He spent the past two-plus seasons with the Nationals, producing some huge hits in the most recent postseason, after spending nine years with the Angels, two years with the Dodgers and half a season with the Philadelphia Phillies. Kendrick batted .344 with 17 home runs, 62 RBIs and a .966 OPS in 370 plate appearances in 2019.
Bowden predicts Kendrick, who can play all around the diamond, will receive a one-year, $7 million contract on the heels of his heroics in the Fall Classic. The Nationals and Colorado Rockies also are considered possible fits for Kendrick, according to Bowden.
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