At the time of this writing, the Red Sox are 20-15 since the beginning of last month, with a .571 percentage through that window of time. Even though they still can’t be considered competitive for a real playoff run, it’s nice to see them performing better of late. A casual glance could attribute this success to a number of sources, but a careful eye reveals that this is all due to the performance of the Sox’s outfield.
Betts has continued his run as one of the Sox’s most consistently good players, putting up respectable numbers no matter what he applies himself to. Bradley has continued to prove his worth as a late-game hitter. Castillo’s numbers are good by any standard, and he’s considered third place to these two. Not a bad situation to be in.
Some critics are wary of putting these three in the outfield, thinking that their excellent history of play so far may not continue when they’re isolated in a more high-pressure situation. But there are alternatives. It looks like, short of Ramirez, the Sox aren’t going to fill their outfield with members of their current roster, at least in a way that makes any sense. We won’t even talk about Craig and Brentz.
So there are some good free agency options (Heyward, Cespedes, Upton…), but the free agent prices are very much racking up for the 2016 season. We’re talking $112 million spent so far, with a number of legal matters still to be spent upon. The Sox are in danger of butting up against the luxury tax, meaning they won’t be able to spend more than fifty or sixty million through the end of the calendar year. The names we’re talking about would easily take a third or more of that number...each! Smart trades in other positions (pitching?) might free up some of this cash, but this all has yet to be seen. You could always look at some mid-shelf names (Venable, Parra come to mind) who could be warm bodies on the field or bench, killing time to a more suited replacement is found.
With a lot of potential trades on the table, and an ever-unpredictable offseason coming up, all of this is no more than speculation. But experience shows us that the Red Sox will spend to bring some clout to the roster, particularly with the current outfield situation, so interested parties will definitely want to keep an eye on the way this plays out.
While we’re certainly not putting money down on what will ultimately happen, you could always get legendary sports bettor Jon Price to help get your MLB picks against the spread. Or you could just tune in and see what happens with the rest of us. In our estimation, with this many options, the outfield lineup for the duration of the 2016 season is anybody’s guess, and by no means a sure thing in any capacity. What’s more, any solution is likely to be a temporary one, so we’ll follow up with this conversation as it develops.