Few expected the Red Sox to sign George Springer.
Through all the waves of players the Red Sox have had interest in, the biggest of big-ticket items in the free agent market -- Springer and Trevor Bauer -- weren't thought to be part of the rebuilding conversation. Too much money. Too many years. The discomfort of giving up a draft pick and International pool money.
It was certainly a different reality. The last time the Red Sox prioritized lower tier signings in the free agent market was the Mike Napoli/Shane Victorino/David Ross/Ryan Dempster wave heading into 2013. Yes, they had lunch with Josh Hamilton, but that was pretty much it.
This is certainly a different time, whether it because of the pandemic-induced economic shift or dramatically altered blueprint thanks to the Chaim Bloom way of doing things.
A free agent that seemingly fit what the Red Sox needed in so many ways -- like Springer -- not getting in John Henry's crosshairs is simply not the norm.
But here we are. Springer becoming a member of the Blue Jays thanks to a six-year, $150 million deal (pending a physical), leaving Red Sox fans having to test their patience like perhaps never before.
With a useful boatload of free agents still out there, and the opportunity to build through Bloom's bread-and-butter (trades), we wait. And wait. And wait.
What we do know in the here and the now is that barring an unexpected shock-and-awe move by the Red Sox, they are looking at a very uncomfortable American League East dynamic.
We know what the Yankees have and what they did last Friday (D.J. LeMahieu, Corey Kluber). Sure, Tampa Bay dealt Blake Snell, but does anyone think they won't find a way to be very good once again. And then there are the Blue Jays.
The usually slow-playing Torontonians now find themselves as undeniably one of the most talented team in the American League. Springer. Another free a coup, reliever Kirby Yates. Last year's free agent prize Hyun Jin Ryu. Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Nate Pearson and Cavan Biggio.
The Blue Jays are built for well beyond 2022. The Red Sox? After that 2022 season they may not resemble anything close to what the here and the now. Chris Sale and Xander Bogaert have opt-outs. The Andrew Benintendi, Nathan Eovaldi and J.D. Martinez contracts will have run out. And Rafael Devers will have one more year of control.
Yes, there are the Bryan Matas and Tanner Houcks and Jarren Durans and Triston Casas' and Bobby Dalbecs. But sometimes you have to pay for some certainty while waiting for those sort of unknowns.
The Blue Jays did exactly that. The Red Sox? Waiting ...