This transcript has been lightly edited. Watch the full interview above.
NBC10 Boston: It hasn't even been a week yet since opening day and Major League Baseball has a coronavirus outbreak. Do you think baseball should have returned?
Julian McWilliams: I don't blame them for trying to return, but I do question the way in which they did. We had [former Red Sox pitcher] David Price come out yesterday, who will opted out of the season. He came out on Twitter and said the reason why I opted out of the season and I'm sitting at home right now is because I got to the field and I did not feel protected. He just had a newborn baby. I know he has a 3-year-old boy. His wife and them are in Arizona, which is already a hot spot, and then you're trying to tell him to go to L.A., which is another hot spot, and he doesn't feel protected... I think it probably should have been a bubble situation.
Who do you think the onus lies on when players don't feel protected?
It obviously falls back on the league. There's a report that said two planes came from Dominican Republic and none of those players were tested... Now you have a situation like the Marlins where, even though three players tested positive, they agreed to play through a group text. Of course the players say they're going to play. They want to play, but you have a situation now where that should be a league decision, that should be health officials' decisions. Whereas players shouldn't take that decision into their own hands because they're going to want to play. Now you have 15 to 16 people test positive, so it falls on the league, it falls on commissioner [Rob] Manfred.
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Eduardo Rodriguez is dealing with a heart condition as a result of his battle with the coronavirus. How does this affect the Red Sox pitching rotation?
Back in spring training, they lost Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery. Then they lost David Price to L.A. in the Mookie [Betts] trade, so they really have no pitching. I don't think I've seen a pitching staff this bad, ever, in my life. They're pretty bad right now. In terms of E-Rod, he was talking on Sunday and I asked him, "Have you ever given any thought to opting out of the season?" and he said, "No, no, no I want to play. I want to play. As soon as I get this thing under control I want to play." In the back of your mind it's like, is it really worth it though?
Is it safe to say this is a rebuilding year for the Red Sox?
I think the next couple of years are probably going to be rebuilding. The only untouchable person I would say that can't be traded, that wouldn't be traded is probably Rafael Devers... He has four to five more years of control before he reaches free agency, so he's being paid like pennies. You probably keep hold of something like that, but somebody like JD Martinez who's making $23 million as a designated hitter, and it is probably gonna be a universal DH so he's probably going to have more places, more options. You could send him to an NL team now because the National League didn't have a DH before. If you put him in the National League that's probably a place where he could be traded. Xander Bogaerts is coming off a great season. He's improved as a player. Those are pieces they can look at, to be able to build their team, build out their minor league system, if they if they did in fact trade those guys. Now, from a leadership perspective I don't know if you want to trade a person like Xander Bogaerts because he's sort of been like the the epicenter of that team, but if you're looking long term like Chaim Bloom always does, he's possibly somebody that could be traded in the future.
Mookie Betts was thought to have been one of those untouchable players. It's still early to tell but do you think that trade will have a long term effect on the Red Sox future?
Mookie's always been the type of person that's always wanted his value, and good for him he got it. He got right below Mike Trout money. From the Red Sox perspective, I think this is something that will come back to haunt them. This is somebody that was homegrown. [Betts] was a fifth round pick. He had to develop into what he was. Nobody expected him to be that type of caliber player where he's like the second best player in the league... From a business perspective, I could see why the Red Sox didn't want to pull the plug. If it were me, if you have somebody like that, you don't let that person walk, and obviously the Dodgers were adamant about not letting him walk.
What should Red Sox fans expect to see this season?
I think it's gonna be a rough year. Hopefully going into next season it gets a little bit better, but I think it's going to be a year of development. You're going to see a lot of guys who you didn't hear of get chances to play. Chaim Bloom is a guy who is trying to piece together the pitching. I will say one thing, this lineup does hit. They will score runs. I think they're still a lethal lineup even without Mookie Betts. You've got JD [Martinez], Xander, Michael Chavis, Mitch Moreland, [Rafael] Devers. You will see a lot of offense, but from a pitching perspective, it always comes down to pitching, and the Red Sox just don't have that.
We saw the Red Sox put up a "Black Lives Matter" billboard at Fenway Park and Sam Kennedy called it a human rights statement rather than a political one. What are you thoughts on the team's decision to share that message?
I was talking to one [MLB] manager and I'm just telling them, "I appreciate what you're doing, but can you get us to a point where we're heard? Can you get us to a point where you hire us? Can you get us to a point where we're an analytics department that doesn't look white." ...If you look at the Red Sox analytics department, it's all white; you look in the A's analytics department, it's all white. Those are the places where these players become GMs, executives and presidents of baseball operations. It's through the analytics department, so it's like "How do we get into this space now?" I'm cool with the "Black Lives Matter" signage they have on I-90, but you want to see action at some point. I think the action starts with us being being in positions of power.