On reflection, Boston’s hopes of competing within the powerful AL East in 2023 rested on manner too many dangerous propositions heading into the season.
Wait, scratch that. Substitute “On reflection” at first of that sentence with “From the very starting of spring coaching …” It at all times appeared like a shaky concept to depend on injury-prone veteran beginning pitchers like Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and James Paxton not solely to remain wholesome, however to pitch like they did once they have been of their 20s. And putting in Enrique Hernandez because the full-time shortstop with Trevor Story out, though Hernandez had by no means began greater than 17 video games there in a season, and even that was again in 2018? That appeared like an pointless threat.
The checklist goes on, too, and it’s a part of the explanation Chaim Bloom, the decision-maker within the Boston entrance workplace, was fired from his job as chief baseball officer. Now, was all of it Bloom’s fault? By no means. He was virtually at all times following possession’s directives to economize and minimize prices, and predictably it didn’t work out. However that’s the subject for a unique column.
Relative right here: After we speak about Boston’s offseason agenda, it begins there, with changing Bloom. Can’t make trades and woo free brokers with out somebody in that function.
It’s a giant process. Numerous work to be achieved. Will possession assist the brand new particular person in a manner it didn’t assist Bloom? Possibly yet one more season in final place within the AL East — 2023 was the second in a row, third in 4 years — lastly does the trick.
The 2023 Sox did obtain one purpose: They obtained beneath the luxurious tax. Surprise if they will discover room to hold that banner in Fenway. Possibly exterior the proprietor’s field?
MORE: Prime 10 obtainable free brokers for 2024
Pink Sox three offseason objectives
1. Enhance the beginning pitching: Brayan Bello was a delight to look at most instances he took the mound, as he developed into a man who appears to be like like a top-of-the rotation starter. Kutter Crawford was stable. And the Sox have choices, assuming everybody’s wholesome, in Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock. All nonetheless have great things. Sale made 19 begins this 12 months, which was nice, however with a 4.42 ERA/3.71 FIP, didn’t appear to be his outdated ace self. There are 5 or 6 free brokers the staff may signal who would instantly change into Boston’s finest starter, and they should get one in all them.
2. Enhance the protection: By Defensive Runs Saved — a great indication, although removed from good (like all defensive stats), the Pink Sox ranked twenty fifth within the bigs, at minus-22. Each different staff within the AL East was at the least at plus-23, led by Toronto’s plus-85. The Sox aren’t ok to present that many outs away and compete in that division.
3. Discover an identification: The Pink Sox certain haven’t acted just like the franchise that received 4 World Sequence titles from 2004 to 2018, and never all that blame could be heaped on Bloom. Decisive strikes, not reactive ones, designed to assist the guardian membership win now can be a welcome change of tempo for the fan base.
Pink Sox free brokers
DH Justin Turner: Holds a participant choice for $13.4 mil, coming off 24-HR, 96 RBI season
SP Corey Kluber: Sox more likely to decline $11 million choice
OF Adam Duvall: Solely performed 88 video games, however hit 21 homers with a 124 OPS+
SP James Paxton: 4.50 ERA, 9.5 Ok/9 in 19 begins
Pink Sox free-agent targets
Except they get a flat-out “not an opportunity” reply from Shohei Ohtani’s camp — they usually received’t, as a result of if nothing else extra groups within the dialog bumps up the value — the Pink Sox ought to do all the pieces of their energy to persuade Ohtani to affix his Crew Japan buddy Masataka Yoshida in Boston. Identical factor with one other member of that WBC-winning squad, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He’s legit, he’s coming into his Age 25 season and he may contend for an All-Star spot and Cy Younger votes in his first season in MLB, similar to Kodai Senga with the Mets this 12 months.
The Sox can’t wait on these selections, in fact, as a result of even when they someway signal one or each, they’ll nonetheless want so as to add at the least yet another beginning pitcher to the combination. Yeah, that’s how massive the necessity is for this membership. There are many choices obtainable, together with outdated good friend Eduardo Rodriguez. Apart from him, there are impression guys like Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, Marcus Stroman and Jordan Montgomery. There are different down-rotation SPs available on the market, too, however Boston must be considering massive.
For the time being, the Pink Sox have three beginning outfielders — Yoshida, Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran — and all three bat left-handed. Teoscar Hernandez can be an ideal slot in that lineup; he’s averaged 28 homers over the previous three seasons, and though his manufacturing was down a bit in 2023, he was actually good the final two months of the season. After the commerce deadline handed on August 1 — he admitted the considered Seattle dealing him wore on him a bit mentally — Hernandez batted .313 with an .885 OPS, with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 50 video games.
Pink Sox potential commerce targets
On the beginning pitching market, there are free-agent-to-be choices (after 2024) who may very well be dealt this offseason, guys like Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow, or Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, and guys with two years of membership management/contracts like Dylan Stop, Michael Kopech (an outdated good friend), Merrill Kelly or Marco Gonzales.
Second base is an space for an improve, offensively or defensively. Nick Madrigal is an impressive defender and wouldn’t value a premium prospect to pry away from the Cubs (as a result of he hasn’t hit like individuals thought he would). Might they get Trevor Story’s outdated teammate, Ryan McMahon? In the event that they selected to improve by way of free company, probably Whit Merrifield.
Pink Sox on the buying and selling block
Alex Verdugo remains to be with the Pink Sox as a result of, properly, not fairly certain. He’s virtually actually not within the long-term plans, so it made sense to maneuver him on the Aug. 1 deadline, however that didn’t occur. Verdugo is a free agent after the 2024 season, and he’s not precisely achieved something to immediate the Pink Sox to set off extension talks. On the sphere, he’s been … nice, at finest. He’s had plenty of massive moments, little doubt, however over the previous three years, he’s averaged a 2.1 bWAR, with 12 homers and a 104 OPS+. Getting into his Age 28 season, it’s time to see what different groups may provide with him as a part of the package deal. And they need to in all probability take no matter they will get.
The Boston farm system is on the rise. We noticed what Triston Casas was able to in 2023, and outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela tore by means of the minor-leagues, then made a robust impression after his call-up. There are extra, although. Whether or not they get to the bigs or whether or not they’re used as commerce chips to land different items, that is still to be seen. Right here’s a reputation you’ll in all probability hear a lot about: Blaze Jordan. He’s a participant who may deliver again a stable return, particularly if he’s a part of a package deal. He’s had an impressive 12 months, posting an .832 OPS with 18 homers between Excessive-A and Double-A, in his Age 20 season. However he performs first base (Triston Casas) and third base (Rafael Devers), and the massive Sox have loads of DH choices.
Bobby Dalbec struggled with the first-base job in 2022 and spent virtually all of 2023 again within the minors. He confirmed that Triple-A isn’t a problem, blasting 33 homers with a .938 OPS in Triple-A. The Sox ought to have the ability to discover somebody keen to take a shot.
Remaining Pink Sox ideas
Let’s first see who replaces Bloom because the decision-maker. There’s a chance right here, with cash to spend and prospects to commerce.