Has baseball got its mojo back?

It seemed to last week, with an offseason spark led by record-setting free agent signings at baseball’s winter meetings.

The signings were good for a lot of people. Mostly for super agent Scott Boras, who saw his clients take in nearly $1 billion in salaries.

It was also good for the game itself. Baseball is often criticized for being too slow and too boring, and that glacial pace had crept into the game’s offseason. In recent years it’s been hard to gather around the hot stove when no one is fanning the flames.

Boras often held up the progress of team’s winter plans by keeping the top available talent on the sidelines. Not this season. He jumped into the action early, creating the type of free agent frenzy that makes the NBA and NFL year-round obsessions for fans.

That frenzy helps build interest during baseball’s coldest days. It helps sells tickets as fans start to imagine what their team might look like with a big bat or impact arm added to the roster.


It also helps teams that aren’t in the market for the biggest free agents. And the 2020 Red Sox are one of those teams.

We all know Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and his staff are looking to get below the game’s Competitive Balance Tax threshold. You can’t do that by giving Gerrit Cole a $324 million contract. Yet, in a strange way, that contract could help the Red Sox in the days ahead.

First, it helps set the market for starting pitching. Cole’s deal, along with Stephen Strasburg’s deal for $245, will make teams look at other pitchers with a new perspective. The three years and $96 million remaining on David Price’s deal is still astronomical, but it’s no longer record setting.

The other benefit is that teams who missed out on Cole or Strasburg now may need to acquire pitching help via trade. An early run on free agents means an earlier start to the trade season, as we saw Sunday when the Indians moved Corey Kluber to Texas.

This once again comes back to Price, who more and more seems to be the player Bloom could move to lower his payroll. Price is coming off an injury but pitched well when healthy last year. The Sox would undoubtedly have to pick up some of his payroll, but the mega-deals signed by others might mean they won’t have to pick up as much as we once thought.

The Angels could be a good partner for a Price deal. New Angels manager Joe Maddon had Price in Tampa Bay, and is trying to build a roster worthy of Mike Trout. The Angels added Anthony Rendon last week but still need a pitcher. Price could fit.

It was interesting that Boston’s only free-agent pitching signing so far was Martin Perez, a lefty. That would mean four lefties in the rotation, with only Nathan Eovaldi throwing from the right side. That led to further speculation that Price could be moved.

Sox fans have been frustrated by the lack of action this offseason, waiting for a trade that could break the logjam of inactivity. A Price move would certainly get things going. And, as we saw last week, it doesn’t take long for action to pick up once team’s dive into fixing up their rosters for next summer.

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

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