2015 MLB Hot Stove Preview: Boston Red Sox
By Brett Malamud
MLB free agency is upon us. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll preview teams around the Major Leagues, and give you a look at what to expect. We started off with the New York Yankees, so it makes sense that our next team is the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox only lose Craig Breslow and Rich Hill this offseason.
The infield is basically set. Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are lined up across the diamond. Blake Swihart will be behind the plate next season after he made a nice impact during his rookie season. If Hanley Ramirez plays first base, as is being reported by multiple outlets, it’ll block 25-year old Travis Shaw who finished off a stellar rookie season. There is the possibility that the Sox trade Ramirez and/or Sandoval, but right now, neither player’s value is high so I’m not sure that dealing either right now is best for the team. I’d look to sign some backups to accompany Brock Holt. David Ortiz will enter what should be his final season, so maybe the Sox sign a player that will eventually fill that role.
There aren’t many holes in the outfield either. Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts will be in the outfield this upcoming season, with appearances by Brock Holt. So now what? Well the Red Sox do have room to back these players up, and have been linked to former Yankees outfielder Chris Young. Signing Young would be a good move for the Sox, and would bring them added depth.
This is where the focus of the offseason should be for Boston. They will be in the market for the top arms out there. That is no secret. Other than their 2013 World Series title, Boston has experienced three last-place finishes in the last four seasons. It all starts with the pitching. Dave Dombrowski acquired David Price back when he was with the Detroit Tigers. What makes you think he wouldn’t want to get him again? They won’t have to surrender a draft pick to get him, which makes Price the most likely offseason free agent to turn contract talks into a bidding war. Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmerman and Johnny Cueto are other candidates to sign with Boston, and would turn the Red Sox from zeros to heroes. There are always trade opportunities too. The Sox talked to the Cleveland Indians over the summer regarding Carlos Carrasco, and so there could be an avenue there. There is also the possibility that was raised in my Yankees preview, that the Washington Nationals could look to deal Stephen Strasburg. The Red Sox have six prospects in the MLB.com Top 100 Minor Leaguers list, and a group of starters that could be dealt for better arms. In the bullpen, I’m looking for the Red Sox to do what they do best, and race the Yankees in gaining assets. They’ve already done that in trading for closer Craig Kimbrel, and may have overpaid for him. My feeling is that he’s only going to be in there when the team is up by three or less, and they haven’t been in that situation lately. But while I would’ve tried to build up the rest of the team first, Kimbrel is a great addition to Boston. Now the Sox need to build up the rest of their pitching staff this offseason.