Two teams still not done adding players who can have an interesting impact on this season are the Boston Red Sox, with a left handed reliever on their mind, and the Baltimore Orioles, who their interests are a bit more specific and big in terms of names: Dexter Fowler, Yovani Gallardo, Pedro Alvarez and Jay Bruce.
Both AL East disappointed in 2015, missing the playoffs. The Red Sox made their splash in this offseason by signing David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract based on his success in the regular season over the years and not his poor performances in the playoffs. The Orioles made their big expenditure on keeping Chris Davis, signing the slugger to a seven year, $161 million deal after a long period of waiting for someone to offer him more.
It’s not so surprising the Red Sox are looking for more players, as their attempts to build off their 2013 World Series title haven’t been successful. Their focus now seems to be on left handed relief pitchers, with Neal Cotts and former Red Sox Franklin Morales as the more serious options for them right now. They would like to have more than just Robbie Ross, Tommy Layne and Roenis Elias, their current left handers in the bullpen.
Both players aren’t ideal, or they would have been signed by now. Morales played for the Red Sox from 2011 to 2013 but got worse with time, returning to the Colorado Rockies in 2014 when he carried on with his decline. He was picked up on a minor league contract last season by the Kansas City Royals and although they never put him in the game with too much on the line, he did deliver a solid 3.18 ERA in 62.1 innings, posting a career best 2.93 strikeouts-per-walks. He made $1.8 million last season for the World Series champions.
Cotts, 36, played for both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Minnesota Twins last season, posting a 3.41 ERA in 63.1 innings, striking out 8.2 batters per nine innings. He had a problem with home runs in 2015, allowing 12 of them during his time on the mound, while doing very badly against right handed batters (.178/.243/.330 against lefties). His velocity is dropping too, clocking around 89.9 mph last season compared to 91.6 during the 2013-2014 seasons.
The Orioles have bigger ideas on their minds. Gallardo might end up signing on a $40-45 million, three year deal. But some in the organization would like to see the money spent on hitters. Dexter Fowler is wanted by a lot of teams around the league and the Orioles have been in contact with the center fielder, who probably expected more than the $20 million over the two years the Orioles are thinking about signing him too if he comes around. A left handed bat, and who knows, maybe even two of them, is what they’ve got on their mind, but remain hesitant because of the draft pick they’d have to give up.
Alvarez batted .243 last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates while hitting 27 home runs and posting a .787 OPS, his best since his rookie year. Rumor has it the Orioles thought about the a combination of Yoenis Cespedes and Alvarez if Davis would have signed with someone else. If Alvarez does get signed, he’ll probably be used as a designated hitter, which would mean putting Mark Trumbo in right field, not the best of defensive options.
The last name on their shortlist is Jay Bruce, someone the Cincinnati Reds have been trying to get rid of for quite some time. Unlike other expensive players on their roster, it’s been difficult casting him away. Bruce makes $12 million in 2016 and there’s a $13 million team option in 2017, with a $1 million buyout. The two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner has batted just a .222 in the last couple of seasons, but still has worthwhile power, hitting 26 home runs last season. He’s still nowhere close to his .800 or better OPS from 2010 through 2013.