When it comes to the MLB offseason, every fan has players they dream about their team acquiring. Much of the time, these dreams aren’t realistic. Personally, I always try to keep it realistic.
Here are five steps to my realistic dream offseason for the Boston Red Sox.
Lock Up the Infield
The top two priorities for the Red Sox this offseason are to bring back Xander Bogaerts and extend Rafael Devers. Rumor has it that the Red Sox are closer to getting a deal done with Devers than Bogaerts, so I’ll start with Devers. Raffy is one of the best hitters in baseball, and is arguably already the face of the Red Sox. The Red Sox need to lock him up long term. I’d expect a deal to be around the $300 million mark for Devers.
For Bogaerts, rumors are that a deal could be around the $200 million range. The reason I named this step Lock Up the Infield and not Lock Up Bogaerts and Devers is because if Bogaerts does leave, the Red Sox need to be in the market for Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson with Trea Turner off the board. If the Red Sox sign one of the big three remaining free agent shortstops, they will have their infield (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS) locked in for the next five years with Casas, Story, Devers, and preferably Bogaerts. They could even start to lay the groundwork for an eventual extension with Triston Casas.
Add Right Handed Bats
The Red Sox have two needs on the position player side of things: A right fielder, and a DH. When you look at the lineup, there already projects to be three lefties in the top six of the order (Devers, Casas, Verdugo), plus a fourth in the lineup when Reese McGuire catches. They need some righties to offset the high amount of lefties they have. The first player I would target is Mitch Haniger, as when he’s healthy he is very good at the plate. However, to try and help keep him healthy I would want him as a DH. That then leaves the right field spot open, where I would target Adam Duvall.
Haniger is expected to get a deal around 3 years for $45 million, while Duvall would most likely be a 1 year deal, but there could potentially be an option tacked onto that as well. If Haniger stays healthy, you have a solid DH that can also fill in at the corner outfield spots. Duvall would be a low risk-high reward signing. Worst case scenario gives you little more than solid defense, but if you can get the 2021 version of Duvall, it would be a stellar signing. 2021 Adam Duvall hit 38 homers while winning a gold glove, albeit with a low average, not many walks, and lots of strikeouts.
Fill Out The Rotation
As it currently stands, the Red Sox rotation currently contains Chris Sale, James Paxton, Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta, and Garrett Whitlock. That is not good enough, and it is too risky. Sale and Paxton have injury histories, Pivetta is prone to struggles, and neither Whitlock nor Bello have started for a full season in the big leagues. I would target a minimum of two starters, and maybe even a third.
I don’t see the Sox targeting the top tier of starters, but the two guys I’d put an emphasis on getting would be Kodai Senga and Jameson Taillon. You could argue to bring back one of Nate Eovaldi or Michael Wacha, if not both, but they both have injury concerns and the team wasn’t good with them last year anyway. Taillon and Senga are both slated to make around $15 million per season. The two of them would essentially be replacing Nate Eovaldi and Michael Wacha in the rotation. It could also allow Garrett Whitlock to stay in the bullpen, strengthening the relief core considerably. That scenario would leave the fifth starter spot up for grabs between Pivetta and Paxton, with one being the fifth starter and the other being a swingman if the Sox choose not to roll with a six man rotation. However, it seems like Whitlock will be starting in 2023.
Put The Final Touches On The Bullpen
With the recent signings of Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez, as well as my move of keeping Whitlock as a reliever, it doesn’t leave many needs in the bullpen. However, one thing the Red Sox could use is a solid left hander who can be used in the 7th or 8th inning. The perfect player to target would be Andrew Chafin. He has been very good the last two seasons, and was also solid from 2017-19 with the D-Backs, although he has clearly taken a step forward the last two years with a 2.29 ERA in 135 appearances. I would think Chafin will be looking for a 2-3 year deal around $8-10 million per year. Adding Chafin adds flexibility, since he could be a 7th-8th inning guy along with Schreiber, meaning Whitlock would be freed for the rotation, which seems to be where he is headed anyway.
Acquire Minor League Depth
No team can have too much depth, especially when the depth doesn’t have to be placed on the 40 man. Go and sign some depth pieces to minor league deals with invites to spring training. Look at guys like John Schreiber and Rob Refsnyder. One of the depth guys could turn into MLB pieces of some sort. And if not they are useful as minor league depth. There’s no risk to getting extra depth, only rewards if you can find them.
How Much Will These Moves Cost
With all of these moves, the Red Sox will be right around the luxury tax. However, they were slightly over the luxury tax last year, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they went over a little bit again. All of the holes on the team would be filled, and I would expect this team to fulfill the promise Chaim Bloom made Kiké Hernandez: that the 2023 Red Sox would be much better than the 2022 Red Sox. Here is what the final team would look like:
C: Reese McGuire
1B: Triston Casas
2B: Trevor Story
3B: Rafael Devers
SS: Xander Bogaerts (or Correa/Swanson)
LF: Alex Verdugo
CF: Kiké Hernandez
RF: Adam Duvall
DH: Mitch Haniger
Connor Wong (C )
Eric Hosmer (1B)
Christian Arroyo (2B, 3B, SS)
Rob Refsnyder (LF, CF, RF)
All it takes is five steps to build a competitive team for the Red Sox in 2023. I doubt all of these moves will happen, but I did try to keep it realistic, such as having Whitlock start, while also targeting players I like such as Kodai Senga, Jameson Taillon, and Mitch Haniger.
What do you think this team could do in 2023?