MLB Offseason Preview: Boston Red Soxby Andersen Pickard November 24, 2021 0 comments
The Boston Red Sox had a commanding 2021 season under the return of manager Alex Cora. After an abrupt sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles to open the year, Boston bounced back and secured the top Wild Card spot in the postseason.
Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom executed a terrific slew of moves, putting the Red Sox in a position to succeed. Specifically, the offseason additions of Garrett Whitlock, Kiké Hernández, and Hunter Renfroe paid dividends while adding Kyle Schwarber, Hansel Robles, and Jose Iglesias in the middle of the summer allowed Boston to remain competitive into October.
Now, the Red Sox head into the 2021-22 offseason with a surplus of decisions ahead of them.
Boston already lost Eduardo Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers, so making a couple of additions to the rotation will be imperative for this team. They also need help on the right side of the infield with Hernández likely headed for a full-time job in center field and Travis Shaw hitting the open market. Finally, every team needs impact bats and bullpen depth. These are two areas where Bloom will likely seek less lucrative deals. The Red Sox can succeed by signing five relievers and three impact bats to cheap deals. The worst-case scenario is that they get released by the end of April. However, it’s also possible that a couple could produce Renfroe-like seasons and help propel Boston to postseason glory.
Keys to the Offseason
Add a high-end starter
The Red Sox’ bullpen closed out 2021 on a shaky-at-best note. Chris Sale was lights out but struggled in the postseason and Tanner Houck could be a candidate to move to the bullpen. Nathan Eovaldi offered a bright spot, but his rotation-made Rodriguez is now in Michigan. Boston will make an addition to its starting rotation, without a doubt. However, it remains to be seen what type of player they pursue. Could they look for an ace? How about one tier down from an ace? Or maybe two back-end arms?
Secure the right side of the infield
Second base has been an issue for the Red Sox ever since they lost Dustin Pedroia to a knee injury that ultimately ended his career. Players like Hernández, Jose Peraza, Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and Christian Arroyo have been serviceable stopgaps, but none of these players represented a long-term solution. Assuming Boston wants Hernández, its defensive wizard, to play most of 2022 in the outfield, they’ll need to sign someone who can provide stability at second base.
Meanwhile, first base continues to be a revolving door for the Red Sox, who have experimented with the likes of Arroyo, Schwarber, Michael Chavis, Danny Santana, Travis Shaw, and Bobby Dalbec since trading away Mitch Moreland in 2021. While Dalbec and fellow first-base prospect Triston Casas are both on the verge of MLB stardom, it would be in Boston’s best interest to bridge the gap by signing a veteran first baseman with solid fielding and a big bat.
Hand out low-cost bullpen deals
This type of approach most applies to all 30 MLB teams, but you can never have a strong enough bullpen. Injuries happen, players are fluky, and nobody can truly be trusted. Rather than paying big money for a late-game reliever who could very well fizzle out within months, the Red Sox should use their analytics background to sign a plethora of late-20s relievers to low-cost, reclamation-style contracts.
Carlos Correa, 27, Shortstop
You’re probably thinking, “Andersen preached rotation, second base, first base, and bullpen, so why is Boston signing Carlos Correa when they already have Xander Bogaerts at shortstop?” Hear me out. Correa is one of the best shortstops in baseball. He puts the ball in play, hits home runs, has a strong glove, and boasts an impressive BB/K ratio for someone of his caliber. The logic here is that Boston signs Correa, who would re-unite with Cora, his old bench coach, to play shortstop. Xander Bogaerts would shift to second base. That way, the Red Sox upgrade at shortstop defensively, solve their revolving door at second base, and add to the lineup a player who ranked among the top-four percent in xBA while slugging 26 homers and 34 doubles in 2021.
Carlos Rodon, 28, Starting Pitcher
Although it seems unlikely that the Red Sox hand out big money to an ace this offseason, Rodon offers intrigue. After all, he’s a top-tier player who will likely earn second-tier money. The southpaw might have been the best pitcher in baseball this past season. However, a shoulder injury limited him to 132.2 innings. When healthy, though, Rodon was dominant, accruing a 34.6 percent strikeout rate and 6.7 percent walk rate. When facing him, batters recorded a .188 xBA, .312 xSLG, and .247 wOBA. His slider was especially dominant, possessing a 40.6 percent whiff rate and holding opponents to a .109 xBA.
Jose Iglesias, 31, Second Baseman
It almost feels mandatory that the Red Sox make a strong effort to re-sign Iglesias. The veteran infielder signed with Boston in September and was brilliant down the final stretch, slashing .356/.406/.508 while standing out defensively through 23 games with the team. Despite being ineligible for the postseason, Iglesias was a main reason why Boston secured a Wild Card spot. He also joined the team in the dugout for the entirety of its October run. Signing him to be the everyday second baseman could be a bit on the aggressive side, but it’s an acceptable move if Boston allocates its resources to sign a bigger name elsewhere.
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