As the new year has now arrived, there aren’t many big moves left to be made this offseason. However, there are always some things that happen in January and February that slide under the radar of most people. Here are three under the radar moves I’d like to see the Red Sox make before the start of Spring Training.

Get Tony Kemp Out Of Oakland

One player that I wanted the Red Sox to acquire before they signed Trevor Story heading into 2022 was Tony Kemp, and my feelings towards Kemp have not changed despite his production dropping off a bit from 2021 to 2022. With the loss of Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox still need a middle infielder. If they are sold on Trevor Story playing SS for 2023, Tony Kemp would make sense at 2B. 

Yes, he hits left handed, but I don’t see that as a problem as I envision him being in a 2B platoon with Christian Arroyo. Kemp plays against right handed starters, and Arroyo plays against lefties. This would also be a way to deal with Arroyo’s health concerns over the course of a season while still being able to get him playing time. Some people have been saying the Sox need a left handed bench bat. Acquiring Kemp would not only give the Sox a bench bat, but also a guy who can play everyday if needed. 

Tony Kemp also fits the mold of the Red Sox offseason targets so far. In 2021, Tony Kemp was 97th percentile in K%, 93rd percentile in Whiff%, 92nd percentile in BB%, and 89th percentile in Chase Rate. In 2022, Kemp was 94th percentile in K% and 98th percentile in Whiff%, although he did drop to 48th percentile in BB% and 49th percentile in Chase Rate. Kemp was also 77th percentile in Outs Above Average in 2021 and 83rd percentile in 2022, so he is more than a capable defender at 2B.

If the Red Sox could get 2021 Tony Kemp, that would be amazing, but even the 2022 version would be fine. I think the most likely outcome is the Sox get something in between what Kemp did in 2021 and 2022, but hopefully closer to 2021 since Kemp’s 2022 numbers are pulled down due to a poor start to the season.

Trade For German Marquez

German Marquez isn’t really under the radar, but I felt a need to include him as he wouldn’t be a groundbreaking transaction if the Red Sox acquired him. In 2022, German Marquez didn’t have the most amazing year of his career. He had a 4.95 ERA in 31 starts in 2022, and even career wise he has a 4.40 ERA. So why get German Marquez? 

First, Marquez is an innings eater. The least amount of innings he has ever thrown in a full season is 162 in his rookie year of 2017. Marquez has thrown 180 innings in 2021 and 2022, and averages 178 innings per season in his career (excluding 2020 and his brief debut in September 2016). Marquez would only be 28 on Opening Day, and he should help the Sox with the question of where they get innings from with all the health concerns in the current rotation.

Another thing on the side of Marquez is how he has pitched away from Coors Field throughout his career. In 85 appearances (84 starts) at Coors Field in his career, he has a 5.08 ERA. Away from Coors Field, Marquez has a career ERA of 3.77 in 87 appearances (85 starts). In 2022, the difference between home and away starts was even bigger than his career numbers, with a 6.70 ERA in 16 home starts and a 3.43 ERA in 15 road starts. Marquez has given up 5% less homers per fly ball on the road than he does at Coors over the course of his career. In 2022, that jumped from 5% to almost 12%.

An added reason to trade for German Marquez is his current contract. He is slated to make $15 million in 2023, and then there is a club option for 2024 worth $16 million, which comes with a $2.5 million buyout. Worst case scenario, Marquez comes in for one year and the Sox decline his option. Best case scenario, Marquez comes in, pitches well, and is locked in through 2024 due to the club option. If $15 million and $16 million seem expensive, remember that Corey Kluber could receive as much as 2 years for $27 million from the Red Sox. Marquez would max out at 2 years for $31 million. So in the big picture, it isn’t really an expensive contract.

The final reason to trade for Marquez is that if you ever need a pitcher to hit, for whatever reason, German Marquez isn’t a bad option. He won a silver slugger in 2018 and is a career .241 hitter in almost 250 plate appearances with 11 doubles, a triple, and 2 homers.

Take A Chance On Alex Reyes

The Red Sox have revamped their bullpen heading into the 2023 season by bringing in some solid bullpen pieces. However, you can never have enough arms. A very intriguing arm still on the free agent market is Alex Reyes. Reyes was stellar in the first half of 2021, earning an all star selection with the Cardinals with a 1.52 ERA to go with 20 saves. However, he struggled in the second half of 2021 with a 5.52 ERA. Overall, Reyes had a 3.24 ERA. 

The problem with Reyes is that he can’t seem to stay healthy. Reyes made his MLB debut in August of 2016, yet still has only pitched in 145 innings in the big leagues. Reyes didn’t pitch in 2017, pitched just 4 innings in 2018 (plus 23 innings in the minors), and pitched just 3 innings in 2019 (plus 37 innings in the minors). Then in 2020 he pitched 20 innings, and in 2021 he pitched 72 innings. However, he didn’t pitch at all in 2022. There’s a massive injury history there with Reyes.

However, Reyes is intriguing because of how good he was in the first half of 2021. He shouldn’t cost much at all and would be a low-risk, high-reward kind of move. Worst case scenario is Reyes can’t stay healthy and doesn’t pitch. But best case scenario is Reyes becomes a good bullpen piece for the Sox in a pen that looks like a potential strength in 2023.

The Red Sox haven’t made any splashy moves so far this ofseason, and there’s a chance that they don’t make any big splashes. However, there are always teams that will make moves in the offseason that go under the radar for one reason or another and end up paying off big time once the season starts.

What will the Red Sox’ under the radar move be? Only time will tell.

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