Rich Hill posted a 2.45 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a starter last season and has experience out of the bullpen. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The baseball offseason is officially underway. Major League Baseball’s general managers meetings began Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona, the first hot-stove gathering of the 30 top executives in baseball.

It is also the first GM meetings for Chaim Bloom as Boston’s chief baseball officer, meaning he can now stop discussing theoretical moves for the coming year and begin discussing actual deals with his peers.

Bloom will undoubtedly float potential trades with other teams, gauging interest rivals have in his players. All eyes will be on these early discussions, and all ears will be perked to hear if the name Mookie Betts is being thrown around.

To some it seems almost inevitable that a major deal will come if the Sox stick to their goal of getting their payroll below $208 million in an effort to reset their competitive balance tax payments in the coming years.

It will most likely take a major trade to get there, and trades like that can alter a franchise for years to come. It’s hard to imagine any deal involving a Red Sox starting player will happen quickly.

While he wades through those options, Bloom will have other issues to deal with.


Most pressing is the hole in the Red Sox starting rotation for the coming year. Rick Porcello is a free agent and unlikely to return to Boston unless he’s willing to accept a significant decrease in salary.

Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez – lauded for their work in 2018 – are coming off disappointing seasons and unlikely to be regular starters for this team in the future.

That means the Red Sox need to find starting pitching at a bargain. And that’s never easy.

There are big prizes up for grabs in the pitching market this offseason. Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are aces and will be paid accordingly. Each will command a contract of $200 million or more, meaning they are out of Boston’s price range.

Behind the two biggest names in the market is a second class of pitcher. Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler and Hyun-Jin Ryu all have the ability to pitch at or near the top of a contender’s rotation. They might not be on the mound Opening Day, but each has the ability to fortify a staff. Chances are pitchers like that will get inflated salaries. Which means Bloom will have to pass.

It’s the next group of pitchers he should be focusing on this offseason. With so many pitchers on the market, there are bargains to be found.


Rich Hill is a name to keep an eye on. He’s from Boston and resurrected his career with the Red Sox in 2015. Injuries are a concern, but when healthy he can pitch. He posted a 2.45 ERA for the Dodgers last season (in 13 games) and has bullpen experience (making him a versatile choice).

Tanner Roark is projected to make in the $8-million to $10-million range next season, and has avoided the injured list in the last six years (making 30 starts in five of them). His 10-10 record and 4.35 ERA with Oakland last season won’t blow you away, but his durability would be appealing to a team that has so many injury concerns at the top of the rotation.

Durability is also Ivan Nova’s biggest asset. Although he had a losing record and a career-high 4.72 ERA with the White Sox last season, the former Yankee led Major League Baseball with 34 starts. And he can deal with big-market pressure.

Gio Gonzalez made just 17 starts last season, his fewest in 10 years, but he has a career 3.68 ERA and success in both leagues. He’s past his prime, but could still deliver as a fourth or fifth starter.

Those are just a few names to consider as Bloom begins to rebuild the Red Sox. Signing one of them won’t electrify the fan base, but it would help solidify a starting rotation that underachieved badly in 2019.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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