Kansas City Royals: Making the case, Boston Red Sox free agents
By Ryan Sikes
Continuing our series of potential free agents that could be a good fit for the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox are up next.
The Boston Red Sox are a year removed from winning their third World Series title in 15 years but things didn’t go as planned in their title defense during the 2019 season. A team looking to shed payroll, thanks in large part to now-fired President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, the Kansas City Royals could potentially pluck a gem from one of the free agents that they would otherwise prefer to keep around.
A quick review of their season indicates that their offense performed well, actually fourth-most runs in MLB, led by 22-year-old Rafael Devers who posted a 0.311/0.361/0.555 line with 32 long balls and 115 RBI in his first full season. Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and J.D. Martinez all put up great numbers, so what went wrong?
Well, their pitching took a massive step backward from the 2018 season. With a 4.70 team ERA, the Boston Red Sox finished 19th in that category, which again, was nearly a full run difference from last year when they posted a 3.75 ERA and finished 8th in the league.
As previously noted, the Red Sox will be looking to shed payroll this offseason and could see a couple of players under contract be traded as well as seeing a few free agents walk in order to get under the luxury tax threshold. The team had to shell out approximately $12 million in fees last offseason and they will be writing another check this offseason. With that said, let’s dive in and evaluate the free agents to be.
J.D. Martinez, DH
Martinez would be an awesome bat in this lineup to give them a little extra thump, as he posted a 0.304/0.383/0.557 line with 36 home runs and 105 RBI this past season. He has a player option to out opt of his contract this offseason if he so chooses. Problem is, the Royals already have a designated hitter in Jorge Soler who is 5 years younger than Martinez but had a career-year in 2019. Martinez has a bit of a better track record but played just 39 games in the outfield last year with a 0.960 fielding percentage. His market value is nearly $24 million which would be far less than Soler’s, even if he opts for arbitration this offseason. Combined with the cost and age, I am fine letting him go elsewhere
Porcello is a really interesting option for me. Still just 30-years-old, Porcello won the Cy Young Award in 2016 but showed signs of decline in 2019. In 32 starts, Porcello posted a 5.52 ERA but a 4.76 FIP, which tells me that he was a bit unlucky. Still, he allowed 31 home runs and struck out the fewest batters since the 2014 season. He made $21 million last season and there is no chance he takes a massive pay cut to join a rebuilding Royals team nor should the team expand their budget to accommodate a now mediocre pitcher.
Rusney Castillo, LF
Another guy with a player option this offseason. Castillo played just 9 games with the big league roster this season and 120 for their Triple-A squad. He posted a decent 0.278/0.321/0.448 down in Triple-A but he has yet to prove he is capable of locking down a big-league roster spot. Combined with the fact that he’s already 32-years-old and made $11 million last season, I don’t think he opts out this year and nobody else is going to give the $14 million he’s owed by Boston in 2020.
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Despite posting a 0.252/0.328/0.507 line with 19 home runs and 58 RBI last season, Moreland was good for just a 1.3 WAR. He’s never been a player that’s shown the ability to hit for a strong batting average and may have peaked in 2015 when he was with the Texas Rangers. Moreland is already 34 years old and made $6.5 million last year. I understand that the Royals don’t have a convincing option at first base right now in either Ryan McBroom or Ryan O’Hearn but signing Mitch Moreland would be nothing more than a stop-gap.
Steve Pearce, 1B
Pearce is 37 years old and batted 0.180 last year. Nope.
Chris Owings, 2B