The Red Sox: small market team?

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The Red Sox obviously haven’t had an active offseason. They got a new manager, picked up a couple of relievers and signed Cody Ross. Not exactly the stuff that an Alpha Team on the Alpha Division is expected to do, I suppose.  Jon Heyman questions this approach and wonders what it all means for the Red Sox:

Bobby Valentine was thrilled to get the job as Red Sox manager. But did he know he might be going to spring training without a starting shortstop and only three set-in-stone starting pitchers? Young, bright Ben Cherington had to be excited to ascend to the Red Sox GM job. But did anyone tell him he’d have to operate like a small-market club? … Boston’s total outlay of cash was less than $10 million (not counting Valentine). Henry hasn’t explained the sudden frugality. But here’s one guess: He overpsent on soccer.

Taking the last part first, I can’t say I know anything about John Henry’s soccer team, but I bet that it’s a net money maker for the Fenway Sports Group, not a drain on the Red Sox.

As for the baseball points, I guess I have to ask what Boston was supposed to have spent so much money on.  They already have a payroll of close to $200 million and will be paying the luxury tax.  They made two gigantic signings just last year in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Their needs this year — shortstop and starting pitching depth — did not match up with any huge-salary free agent out there this year. At least one that made sense for the team.

However bad the last month of the season was, they still won 89 games. Whatever flaws the team has right now, there is no obvious solution to them that simply involves spending more money.  While it’s totally fair game to inquire about the direction of the Boston Red Sox or any other team, I’d like to know what Heyman would have done with John Henry’s money that Ben Cherington hasn’t done.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.