This offseason has made many fans disheartened about how the team now appears heading into next year. Here’s a summary of the best and worst choices the Red Sox made as they look to compete in this upcoming season and beyond.
We all know the biggest loss of the offseason was Mookie Betts, who was traded to the Dodgers along with David Price. Mookie of course was the best player on the team. A guy who was a regular All-Star and also a recent MVP winner is difficult to replace. As for Price, he wasn’t amazing, but was still a solid piece of the starting rotation.
But they weren’t the only casualties, as in free agency we saw both Brock Holt and Rick Porcello leave to the National League. It was fine to lose Rick, as he got paid way more than he should have for a guy who hasn’t even been decent since his 2016 Cy Young. But Holt was one of the hearts of the team, and he left for under $4 Million for one year, something the Sox surely could’ve paid.
Even their staff saw a great loss in Alex Cora, an impressive young manager who was fired due to the infamous sign-stealing scandal. Every end of Boston’s staff saw changes, from the pitching staff to the hitting coaches. But even after last year’s disappointing campaign, the loss of Cora still will be felt.
No Major Additions
Despite these losses and the money it frees up, the Red Sox made no major moves to improve the team. The pitching staff needed clear help, as basically all starters failed to make a positive impact besides Eduardo Rodriguez. Even if you were to assume Sale and Eovaldi make comebacks, like it appears they possibly could, they still have the fourth and fifth spots of their rotation to look at. If they really wanted to contend this year, one more starter would have been perfect to cement a great rotation.
Even their relief pitching could’ve used at least one good addition, as they could use a guy to go in before Workman when Barnes isn’t available. Losing Holt opened a hole at second, and while they have Chavis it would have been better to have him at first and Holt at second. Speaking of first, now you have Moreland as your starter. He’s not terrible, but he will probably be the worst hitter in the lineup on an ordinary night. While no one expected management to splash the cash, we still thought they would fill some gaps in the roster.
Low Risk, High Reward Signings
They didn’t make any large signings, but I must admit they made some clever signings. For starters, they fixed up their depth issues with the very cheap additions of catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Kevin Plawecki, as well as utility man Jose Peraza. Lucroy has struggled over the past two years, but was one of the best catchers in the game prior to that. If he can find his form, Lucroy would make a dangerous partnership with Vazquez.
Peraza is a solid young hitter who can play anywhere in both the infield and outfield. He batted .288 the prior year over 157 games with Cincinnati, and if he could get back to that then he could become the starting second baseman while pushing Chavis back to first. And he’s only getting paid $3 Million this season and has two years of arbitration as well.
But they’re not the only clever pickups. Kevin Pillar will boost the offense of the outfield, serving as a replacement until Verdugo gets healthy and could even take over JBJ’s spot if Pillar’s offense heats up. Starters Collin McHugh and Martin Perez were also clever pickups, more than making up for the loss of Price while also remaining much cheaper.
McHugh was a great starter, and when turned into a reliever he was great as well. Perez looks like a good pitcher so far in Spring Training, having seven strikeouts in his last outing, so the talent is certainly there. So while the signings weren’t flashy, they could be just what they need to compete next year.
The complete reimagining of the staff could be seen as a blessing in disguise. While Cora has been great for the Red Sox, last season still was a huge disappointment, and some of that has to fall on the manager. So having Roenicke as the manager could potentially rejuvenate the squad, and Jerry Narron gives the Sox a fresh perspective as bench coach.
The pitching coach staff changing up can only help, as the unit displayed below league average pitching for the first time since 2015. That may not be completely their fault, but it was clear adjustments to Sale’s and Eovaldi’s game was severely affecting their game for the worse. Dave Bush, the new pitching coach, brings vasts amounts of personal experience both pitching and coaching that will transition well to Sox pitchers.
But they also retained enough of the staff’s core to keep the culture relatively similar to when they were successful. Tim Hyers is still the hitting coach, Febles and Goodwin are still the base coaches, and of course, Roenicke is there as well. Losing good coaches are never fun, but it could be for the best in the end.
Apparently the goal of the offseason was to cut costs, and they did just that. They went from the highest paying team to the fifth highest, dropping by a massive $50 million. They saved further cash by trading away Mookie, who would’ve cost them a massive amount of money if resigned when his contract expired this year, and only signing bargains in free agency certainly helps as well.
It’s not what the fans wanted, but the reduction in payroll sets the Red Sox up for future success. They can analyze their major weaknesses following the 2020 season, and trade some additional large contracts away before committing to signing at least a few notable stars in free agency as they did before their 2013 Championship. This flexibility can’t be understated, and Chaim Bloom recognizes the importance of this new development. If the Red Sox play this right, we could be on our way to another championship.