Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was specific when he laid out the organization’s plan for the offseason. On Monday, he told reporters the club hopes to add “seven, eight, nine players” including a relief pitcher, a starter, and three or four position players.
Re-signing Xander Bogaerts remains priority No. 1, per Bloom. But while trying to find common ground with their homegrown shortstop, the Red Sox have focused on bolstering their bullpen for 2023. That’s a wise choice considering the unit’s struggles throughout last season.
First came the signing of left-hander Joely Rodriguez, a name we won’t pretend we’ve heard before this offseason. Veteran right-hander Chris Martin reportedly inked a two-year deal shortly thereafter. Then the big one came on Wednesday: a two-year contract for All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
The Jansen signing is a breath of fresh air after last year’s failed closer-by-committee approach. He’s coming off a 2022 campaign in which he led the National League with 41 saves while posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
Tomase: Kenley Jansen is a slam-dunk signing for the Red Sox
While his best days are likely behind him, the 35-year-old is exactly what this club needed. The back end of the ‘pen should be in solid shape with Martin, Jansen, 2022 breakout reliever John Schreiber and possibly Tanner Houck.
That said, there is plenty of work still to be done, especially if Boston is committed to checking off the items on its to-do list. Here’s what should come next for Bloom and Co.
Sign Xander Bogaerts
Plan B: Carlos Correa or Dansby Swanson
A Bogaerts decision seems to be imminent. The Red Sox remain engaged with the two-time World Series champion along with a handful of other clubs, including the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Chicago Cubs.
With the bullpen issues solved, all of Boston’s attention should be focused on getting a deal done with Bogaerts before the winter meetings conclude. From there, the team can figure out how to fill the remaining holes on the roster.
Bloom mentioned being satisfied with Trevor Story or Kiké Hernandez replacing Bogaerts at shortstop if necessary, but that certainly isn’t what fans want to hear. If Bogaerts decides to sign elsewhere, the Red Sox should enter the bidding war for the top shortstop left on the market: Carlos Correa or Dansby Swanson.
Add a front-end starter (or two)
Free agent options: Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha
Trade option: Pablo Lopez (Miami Marlins)
As much as I love the idea of signing Carlos Rodon, the southpaw is asking for a lucrative six-year deal. That just doesn’t seem realistic for Boston.
The Red Sox have reportedly been in the mix for Senga and while there hasn’t been much buzz on Bassitt, he would slot in nicely as the No. 2 starters. Both would be solid upgrades but regardless, this rotation would still lack a bona fide ace. Re-signing Eovaldi or Wacha in addition to Senga or Bassitt would be ideal.
Lopez has been rumored to be on the trade block and his upside is tremendous. He might be expensive, but the 26-year-old right-hander should at least be under consideration if the aforementioned names sign elsewhere.
Sign or trade for a starting outfielder
Free agent options: Brandon Nimmo, Masataka Yoshida, Michael Conforto, Andrew Benintendi
Trade options: Bryan Reynolds (Pittsburgh Pirates), Daulton Warsaw (Arizona Diamondbacks)
The free-agent outfield options are dwindling. Aaron Judge was never going to happen, but rumored Red Sox target Mitch Haniger is off the board (San Francisco Giants), as is Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs).
The Red Sox lack outfield depth behind Alex Verdugo and Kiké Hernandez and right field was a disaster in 2022. That needs to be addressed one way or another. If Nimmo is too pricey, taking a chance on Yoshida or Conforto could be the way to go. Perhaps a reunion with Andrew Benintendi could be in the cards if all else fails.
Who is Masataka Yoshida? Japanese OF a free agent option for Red Sox
Trading for Reynolds or Varsho (who can also play catcher) seems like a long shot, but it may be worth parting ways with some prospects for a player who can help you win now. The Red Sox made it clear their plan is to compete in 2023, now is the time to prove it.
UPDATE (Dec. 7): The Red Sox reportedly checked this one off their list by signing Yoshida to a five-year contract.
Lock up Rafael Devers on a long-term extension
All eyes have been on Bogaerts through the first month of the offseason, and rightfully so. But don’t forget about Devers. The All-Star third baseman will be in the same boat as Bogaerts as a free agent for the first time in his career next offseason if the Red Sox fail to extend him before then.
Bloom said the club’s ongoing negotiations with Devers are “definitely not a back burner topic with us.” Although there’s still plenty of time to get a deal done, it won’t sit well with fans if he isn’t signed before 2023 Opening Day.
Boston should avoid another Bogaerts situation at all costs and keep baseball’s best left side of the infield intact.