White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu

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Now is not the time to go after Jose Abreu

Nick Friar
July 19, 2019 - 3:37 pm

Jose Abreu makes any team better offensively. No one is going to argue otherwise. But on the list of problems the Red Sox have this year, the offense is not a top priority. Actually, can you even include the offense among Boston’s issues?

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaert have been outstanding. Christian Vazquez is having a career year. JD Martinez may not be having his best year, but he’s been good. Even Mookie Betts is picking it up, and while he’s had some lulls, he has still been effective.

That’s five guys you can rely on. Then get contributions from Brock Holt and Michael Chavis every so often. Maybe Andrew Benintendi gets it together, but the Red Sox should be fine offensively even if he doesn’t. Because this team leads all of baseball in runs per game (5.64). They’re also first in team batting average (.273), first in team on-base percentage (.347) and fourth in team OPS (.810). However you want to look at it, this offense is in good shape.

Now, if the Red Sox weren’t hurting in other areas, there were be no debate here. Why not add Abreu if you can? But it’s not exactly a secret their starting rotation and bullpen have struggled.

The Red Sox did make a move to get Andrew Cashner, which isn’t a bad move on its own — despite his first outing. But if Dave Dombrowski is prepared to present the White Sox with a package for Abreu, he’ll almost certainly have to offer a lot — expiring contract or not.

So why, then, didn’t the Red Sox instead use whatever assets they plan to offer for Abreu in another deal where they could’ve gotten a starter who slots higher in the rotation?

John Morosi of MLB Network reported the Red Sox had a scout in attendance for Thursday’s matchup between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, the latter of which is reportedly available and much better than Cashner. Boston was supposedly there looking at the relievers. That’s fine. San Francisco’s Will Smith, Sam Dyson and Tony Watson are all good relievers. Any one of them would make a big difference.

But why no interest in Bumgarner? Obviously, not now since they have Cashner, but before. Bumgarner isn’t what he used to be, but he’s still very good. And he has been the best starting pitcher in the postseason this decade.

If the Red Sox had the ability to get one of those three relievers and Bumgarner in a package deal instead of Cashner and Abreu, then Boston botched this one. Unless Cashner turns into ole reliable out of nowhere and Chris Sale builds off of Thursday’s start. If that happens, then the starting rotation will be fine, and all the team will need is a reliever. But that’s a big ask for Sale this year and Cashner is truly a fourth or fifth starter — meaning he can only be so reliable.

Bumgarner, on the other hand, would at least be the team’s No. 2 behind David Price if they added him right now. Maybe Bumgarner would even be the No. 1. Either way, he’d make a huge difference.

Instead, the Red Sox got a No. 4 starter so they could go after another bat.