Top 5 Offseason Red Sox Storylines to Keep an Eye on originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Chaim Bloom’s defining offseason with the Boston Red Sox continues.
A year before their surprise berth in the American League championship, the Red Sox, the last-place team with gaping holes throughout the register. In addition to filling those gaps to create a competitive club in 2023, Bloom and the front office must consider the long-term future of the franchise’s cornerstones. Xander Bogaerts as well as Raphael Dever.
So what should Red Sox fans be focusing on in the next few months? Here are five important offseason storylines to keep an eye on.
1 Free Will Xander Bogarts
Let’s start with the obvious: the future of homegrown shortstop Xander Bogarts.
As expected, Bogarts opted out of his contract with the Red Sox to officially become a free agent for the first time in his MLB career. After his fourth All-Star season, he will have no shortage of suitors. Philadelphia Phillies, led by former Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, there are already rumors participate in Bogaerts lotteries.
Bloom speaks to the Red Sox “a priority” re-signs Bogaerts, but actions will speak louder than words in the coming weeks. They can’t expect the 30-year-old to take advantage of another hometown discount at this point in his career.
If Bogarts is intercepted by another organization, Boston could turn their attention to Trea Turner, Carlos Correa or Dansby Swanson as replacements.
2. Contract negotiations with Rafael Devers
Devers is under contract for the 2023 season. However, the Red Sox still have to work hard to lock up their star third baseman for a long-term extension before it’s too late. Losing Bogarts this offseason is one thing, but losing him without extending Devers? This will not please Red Sox fans.
So far, the chances of the parties agreeing to a deal seem slim. While it’s good to hear that Devers and the Red Sox have discussed a new deal, they reportedly remain “far apart” in negotiations… $100 million to be exact.
The contract situations of Bogarts and Devers are undoubtedly the Red Sox’s most important storylines not only this offseason, but in recent franchise history. They will have an impact on the organization for several years to come.
3. Overhaul of the bullpen
The bullpen was a major factor in the Red Sox’s demise in 2022. Boston finished with the fifth-worst ERA (4.59) in a bullpen in the league, and has been unable to get close throughout the season.
One of the division’s few bright athletes, Garrett Whitlock, I will use it as a starter in 2023. General manager Brian O’Halloran says the plan is also to start Tanner Hawk. Top it off with Matt Strum becoming a free agent and adding quality assists should be the #1 priority behind the Bogaerts/Devers signings. The bullpen needs an overhaul, and if it doesn’t get one, using Whitlock and Hawke as starters instead of pitchers would be a malpractice.
4. Who is the ace?
Even with Whitlock and Hawk in the rotation and a healthy Chris Sale, the Red Sox need to find a way to get a real ace this offseason.
The current Red Sox rotation consists of Sale, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, Brian Bello and possibly Tanner Hawke. You just can’t count on Sale to hit 100+ innings next season and the rest of the group is a mix of inconsistent, injury-prone or unproven options. Boston does not need to acquire Jacob de Grom, but does need to acquire the front hand through a free agency or trade. After deGrom, Carlos Rodon is the most prominent player on the free agent market, followed by Chris Bassitt.
5. Field upgrade
At some point, the Red Sox will need to increase the depth of field behind Quique Hernandez and Alex Verdugo. They started the process by re-signing Rob Refsnyder, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The Christian Arroyo/Franchi Cordero combo in right field won’t help this time.
As the Red Sox search for a big bat, it’s impossible not to mention Aaron Judge. It’s unlikely that Bloom is betting enough to be part of the judges’ prank, but for now, fans can at least dream.
When it comes to realistic free agent options, Brandon Nimmo stands out along with Mitch Huniger and Jock Pederson. Do not rule out a reunion with Andrew Benintendi.