Examining the A.L. East Starting Rotations (Boston)
By Cary Greene
March 11, 2022
3rd Best Projected Rotation in AL East: RED SOX
● Projected WAR: 12
● Cary’s Rank: 4th (Behind Sale and Evolidi there are some question marks)
● 2021 ERA+: 111 (-2.6 Below World Series Winners Avg ERA+ of 113.6)
● Trade Value of MLB Starters: 82.6, Average Age: 25.1
● Total Payroll for MLB Starters: $68.6 million / Avg Per SP: $9.8 million
● AVG Yrs Team Control: 3.4
● Trade Value of MiB Starters: 82,6 / Two Tier 2 Prospects / 6 Tier 3 Prospects
○ T2 – Brayan Bello, Double-A / Jay Groome, Double-A
● Staff Ace: 33 year-old Lefty Chris Sale
How did the Red Sox Build their Projected Rotation? (4 Free Agents / 2 Trades / 1 Draft Pick / 1 Rule 5 Draft Selection)
● Traded for Chris Sale in 2016 to be the ace of their staff, acquiring him from the White Sox for INF Yoan Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Alexander and RHP Victor Diaz. Then, in 2019, Boston extended Sale for 7 years and $97.4 million.
● Signed Nathan Eovaldi to a four year, $57.3 million deal in 2019.
● Traded with the Phillies in 2020, acquiring Nick Pavetta and Connor Seabold for Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman.
● Signed Michael Wacha this offseason to a 1-year $7 million deal.
● Signed Rich Hill this offseason to a 1-year $5 million deal.
● Drafted Tanner Houck in 2017 in Round 1 with the #24 Pick
● Signed James Paxton this offseason to a 3 year $35 million dollar incentivized deal.
● Acquired (or should I say, STOLE) Garett Whitlock from Yankees in 2020 Rule 5 Draft for $50,000. (ouch)
Most projections agree that the Red Sox have a solid starting rotation. Boston has built their rotation mostly through free agent signings while sprinkling in a couple of good trades. However, Eduardo Rodriquez signed with the Tigers for 5 years and $77 million this offseason and that’s a substantial loss – a loss which Chaim Bloom hasn’t done enough to offset. There is a good chance that Boston’s starting pitching may be a little worse this year than it was last year.
There are two organic things Bloom can do about this, by simply taking what’s already on the roster and asking more from it. One way Chaim Bloom is considering tweaking the Starting Rotation is by potentially starting Garrett Whitlock. This tweak could be highly impactful and fangraphs hasn’t factored Whitlock into the starting pitching mix, choosing instead to consider him a reliever.
If Bloom pushed this button and if Tanner Houck builds on his solid season last year, the Red Sox would have a deep, talented rotation with an assassin, in Chris Sale, to lead it. Boston needs Sale and Eovaldi to both stay healthy of course.
Assuming however that the Sox continue to use Whitlock out of their Bullpen, the starting Rotation would be headed by Sale and old friend turned arch nemesis, Nathan Eovaldi. Slotting in behind this two-headed monster would be Nick Pivetta, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill. Tanner Houck will absolutely factor into the mix so it certainly looks like Boston will get decent starting pitching that might be a tic worse than last season.
Personally, I’m not won over by the Red Sox signing of Rich Hill. Tampa’s front office was less than enthused with his peripherals last season and they cut bait with him at the July Deadline, trading him to the then pitching starved Mets for reliever Tommy Hunter and MiB catcher Matt Dyer. Obviously Boston still feels Hill is a slightly above average starter or they wouldn’t have signed him, but if they chose instead to give the innings to Houk and or Whitlock, they might be better off.
Boston also signed James Paxton on a three year deal so once he’s fully recovered from TJS, the“Big Maple” will also slide into the rotation some time in the second half of the season. Overall, Boston is pretty loaded in the pitching department for the coming season. The Red Sox system isn’t barren but it’s way off the pace being set by the Rays both in terms of Trade Value and quality depth. Boston’s top two pitching prospects are both Tier-2 Starters – Brayan Bello and Jay Groome, who each made it to Double-A last year.
Bello pitched 95.1 innings last year while dazzling scouts with his 12.5 K/9 to 2.9 BB/9 ratios while keeping the ball on the ground 55.2% of the time. In the near-term, Bello will probably impact the Sox bullpen later this season and his outlook is absolutely a front of the rotation, high strikeout ground ball machine Starter.
Groome, who was the 12th pick in the 2016 Draft, finally had a big, breakout season last year. Boston could have taken Josh Lowe in the ‘16 Draft, in which case Lowe would probably be their starting centerfielder this year. Looking beyond Bello and Groome, Boston has 26 year-old Tier-3 righty Connor Seabold who will be a long-man and spot starter for the Red Sox this year. Tier-4 prospect Kutter Crawford will be stashed in Triple-A and is available as depth for Boston this year.
The Red Sox also have six other Tier 3 prospects in their system, three of which are in Double A (Chris Murphy, Noah Song and Thad Ward). Overall, the Red Sox don’t have a lot of trade value in their Minor League System and at the Major League level they don’t have a lot of team control, so as an organization, Boston will need to put a lot more focus on pitching if they plan on keeping pace with teams with systems like the Rays and the up-and-coming Orioles.