Imagine a time when we decided not to fork over a fair amount to Jon Lester. He declines our offer and heads over to the Chicago Cubs…we’re now left high and dry. In need of pitching, who do we go for? Weight watcher Pablo Sandoval and a position transitioning Hanley Ramirez. Instead of signing a premier ace, we decide to sign 2 3rd basemen, one of which will transition over to left field (not for long).
*Photo: Boston Herald
Sandoval and Ramirez get signed for a total annual average of $41 million. Why not sign Scherzer for a portion of that? Max Scherzer gets a 7-year/$210 million contract from the Red Sox to anchor the staff now that Lester is gone for good. Sandoval signs with the San Diego Padres and they deal with the disaster that becomes. Hanley Ramirez signs with the Baltimore Orioles to replace Nelson Cruz.
With a clear ace anchoring the staff, there’s no need to trade off Yoenis Cespedes to acquire Rick Porcello. Travis Shaw mans the hot corner while Cespedes helps keep a balance of power with David Ortiz.
The next offseason, Cespedes gets a big contract from the Red Sox and the team builds around the core of an emerging Shaw, Cespedes, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts. They trade off prospects for a dependable closer to replace Koji Uehara…and acquire Craig Kimbrel. And to add on to that, the big fish acquired is Chris Sale. Of course, this is all in hindsight, it was just a matter of making moves that would still make sense: keep the offense you have and sign/trade for a big-time ace.
A 1-2 punch of Max Scherzer and Chris Sale would be as potent as any team would be capable of today. Although often injured, Yoenis would be plenty capable of playing the field or being a full-time DH with the progression of Andrew Benintendi. The current 2018 team looks primed to make another solid postseason birth and run, but this once-possible squad would’ve been interesting to see.