Might Red Sox consider adding George Springer if free-agent outfielder remains unsigned going into spring training?

Alongside the likes of Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto, outfielder George Springer remains one of the top free-agents still on the market.

The 31-year-old is coming off a 2020 season with the Astros in which he posted a .265/.359/.540 slash to go along with 14 home runs and 32 RBI over 51 games played, which was enough to finish 13th in American League MVP voting.

While there have not been too many definitive rumblings as to where Springer could land this offseason, it is apparent that the Blue Jays and the Mets are pursuing the three-time All-Star the hardest.

That being the case because according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, “indications are [Toronto’s] No. 1 free-agent priority is still center fielder George Springer.”

MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi, meanwhile, notes that Springer “has drawn the most significant interest from the Blue Jays and Mets” and “the 31-year-old is said to have a preference to play near his home state of Connecticut.”

Given that reported preference, Springer — a UCONN product — would seem more likely to lean towards signing with the Mets, although New York might be limited in what they can do now in order to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

As SNY’s Andy Martino wrote on Friday, “Once the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco last week, their pursuit of Springer downshifted significantly, according to people involved in the talks.”

Martino also reports that Springer, who does not turn 32 until September, has a five-year deal on the table from the Blue Jays worth anywhere from $115 million to $125 million.

Assuming what has already been reported is true, it does not seem like the two-time Silver Slugger will remain on the open market for too much longer.

That being said, the possibility still remains that Springer could remain unsigned going into the start of spring training, as has been the case with past coveted free-agents such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in 2019.

In that scenario, it might not be too crazy for a team that has not been seriously linked to the right-handed hitting, 6-foot-3, 221 lb. outfielder to this point, like the Red Sox for instance, to explore a potential deal there.

Of course, any team outside of the Astros that signs Springer would have to forfeit a second-round draft pick as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money due to the fact that Houston extended a qualifying offer, which was later rejected, to its former first-round draft pick in November.

Even with that caveat in mind, though, the Sox could at least consider negotiating with Springer if he is still a free agent come mid to late-February.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo discussed that possibility with MLB.com’s Ian Browne and The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam on the latest installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast.

“I think if the bottom falls out of this George Springer market, and he is unsigned into spring training, which it feels like the Mets aren’t going there, the Blue Jays are a lot of talk and not a lot of action like another team we know… If the bottom really falls out of that, I think [the Red Sox] will legitimately consider whether it’s worth giving up a second-round pick for him. He might be the one exception to that rule there,” Cotillo said.

“He has the talent of somebody you would give up a second-round pick for. That would justify cheaping out on some of these other guys if they go out and get George Springer,” Browne added.

“He solves a ton of problems. He gives you an above-average defender in center — I don’t think he’s equal to [Jackie Bradley Jr.] but he’s good — but more importantly…he’s a terrific leadoff option. So you don’t have to worry about, in the event that [Andrew] Benintendi somehow stayed, putting [Benintendi] there since he’s not crazy about it. [Alex] Verdugo, I think, has made it well known that while he’ll do it, he’d prefer to hit lower. So it takes care of your leadoff guy.

“And as we know, Springer has shown himself to be a fabulous October player. He’s had a ton of experience on the big stage with Houston the last four years. So, presumably, if someone can do that in the big moment in October, then playing in Boston with expectations would not be anything that would rattle him. Of course, he’s got a New England background having gone to UCONN,” said McAdam.

“And Alex Cora. There are some damaged relationships from all the fallout of the Astros’ scandal. That’s not one of them. Alex has said that he communicates with Springer pretty frequently, so that won’t be an issue,” concluded Cotillo.

So, even though Queens may be slightly closer to New Britain, Conn. — Springer’s hometown — than Boston, it’s probably fair to say that the Red Sox, with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, cannot be ruled out of the Springer sweepstakes at this point in time.

If push were to come to shove within the next few weeks, then perhaps former UCONN right-hander turned Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, who was teammates with Springer on the Huskies baseball team from 2009-2011, would be willing to do some recruiting as well.

(Picture of George Springer: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)

Red Sox reached out to DJ LeMahieu early on in free agency, could reconnect with veteran infielder this week (report)

In addition to improving their starting pitching depth, one of the holes the Red Sox need to address this offseason is at second base.

Boston is coming off a 2020 season in which its second basemen posted an American League-worst OPS of .586 and American League-worst wRC+ of 55.

The club was aggressive in their pursuit of coveted Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim to fill that hole at second base, but the 25-year-old inked a four-year, $28 million deal with the Padres in late December.

With Kim off the market, the Sox may very well turn to another highly-touted free agent second baseman in three-time All-Star D.J. LeMahieu.

LeMahieu, according to Yahoo Sports‘ Tim Brown, “has become dismayed by the slow-play tactics of the Yankees, along with other clubs.”

The 32-year-old out of Louisiana State University is coming off another successful season with the Bronx Bombers in which he slashed .364/.421/.590 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, and 27 RBI over 50 games (216 plate appearances) in 2020.

Emerging as perhaps one of the best infielders in baseball in his time with New York, LeMahieu is reportedly seeking a new contract this winter that exceeds “Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and [is] at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox.

“The Yankees, LeMahieu’s preferred club after two successful seasons in the Bronx, have not met those terms,” Brown writes.

Given his frustrations, LeMahieu has asked “his representatives to re-engage with teams that have previously shown the most interest…and to reconnect with teams that reached out early in the free agent period.”

The Red Sox are one of the teams that reportedly reached out to the two-time batting champ early on in the free agent period, likely in late October or early November.

They could also be one of the teams planning to meet virtually with LeMahieu at some point this week, according to Brown, seeing how they are “seeking to fill holes at second or third base.”

One caveat that comes with pursuing LeMahieu is the fact that he has a $18.9 million qualifying offer attached to him, meaning the Red Sox — or any club besides the Yankees — would have to forfeit a 2021 second-draft pick as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money in order to sign him.

Back in November, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom stated that he would not shy away from certain free-agents with QOs attached to them as long as they fit a team need.

“I think it’s our responsibility to engage on everybody that could fit us,” Bloom said via a Zoom call. “Obviously when you’re talking about somebody that has a qualifying offer on them, the cost to us in signing them is greater and you have to factor that in on some level. But I don’t like ruling us out on anybody.”

While not ruling the likes of LeMahieu out then, Bloom also emphasized the significance second-round picks can have for an organization, citing Jon Lester (2002) and Dustin Pedroia (2004) as prime examples in the Sox’ case when speaking with reporters last month.

“All draft picks are calculated risks to some extent,” Bloom said. “There’s no guarantees with any of them. You can look at 2002 and 2004 just to see how valuable a second round pick can be in this organization. It’s really valuable. You saw this past year in the draft, we didn’t have one. And as a result we had to navigate the draft differently than we might have if we had our pick in that round. So it matters. It obviously has value. It gives you a very good shot at an impactful player. And so you just have to factor that in. It’s not an absolute one way or the other. But you can’t be blind to the value that you’re giving up in
that scenario.”

In addition to the constraints — both financial and developmental — bringing in LeMahieu would create, the right-handed hitter’s swing may not even play that well at Fenway Park in comparison to how it plays at Yankee Stadium.

That being the case because, as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier noted in December, LeMahieu’s “batted-ball profile — a right-handed hitter who drills liners to the opposite field — represents an ideal fit for Yankee Stadium but a poor one for Fenway.”

In 14 career games and 65 career plate appearances inside Fenway Park, LeMahieu has posted a .516 OPS, which pales in comparison to his lifetime OPS of 1.042 at Yankee Stadium.

With those numbers in mind, LeMahieu could very well be attempting to use the Red Sox as leverage in this scenario, and the Red Sox, upon getting in touch with the veteran infielder’s reps in the fall, may have just been doing their due diligence, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors’ Mark Polishuk.

Still, it is somewhat fascinating to see that Boston could be in play for a premier free-agent like LeMahieu at this stage in the offseason, though I don’t really see the two sides coming to terms on a long-term contract that lines up with what the 32-year-old is looking for anytime soon.

(Photo of D.J. LeMahieu: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)