The MLB offseason is formally right here, and the Crimson Sox have already made their first massive acquisition.
Craig Breslow was formally launched because the crew’s new chief baseball officer on Thursday, every week after the crew introduced his hiring. Whereas his press convention allowed everybody to decipher and attempt to discover clues on what the Crimson Sox would possibly do that offseason, it’s clear Breslow has some strikes to make if he needs to get his crew again into the postseason after two straight last-place finishes.
With free brokers in a position to signal with new groups as early as Monday, listed here are six issues to know in regards to the Crimson Sox’ 2024 offseason.
They’ve a number of notable free brokers.
Whereas the Crimson Sox don’t have any impending free brokers who had the impression Xander Bogaerts had in Boston previous to leaving final offseason, they’ve a number of gamers who made contributions final season and are set to hit the open market.
Justin Turner might be the most important identify amongst them. The veteran declined his participant choice on Friday, receiving a $6.7 million buyout as a substitute to hit the market.
After all, that doesn’t imply that Turner gained’t return to Boston. Actually, he’s indicated that he’d prefer to return to the Crimson Sox in 2024 as he’s stayed within the space will after their 2023 season ended.
“I really like taking part in in Boston and I’ve had an incredible expertise right here, so clearly, it might be unbelievable if I used to be nonetheless right here,” Turner advised reporters in September.
Turner, who was among the many prime three on the Crimson Sox in batting common (.276), dwelling runs (23), and RBIs (96), proved to play a key position in his first season in Boston, primarily serving as its designated hitter to exchange J.D. Martinez.
Whereas Turner additionally performed a number of video games at first base and made cameos at second and third, his return to Boston is perhaps a bit difficult. It’s been speculated that the Crimson Sox may transfer Masataka Yoshida to be their major designated hitter in 2024 and with Triston Casas’s emergence within the second half of the season, there isn’t as a lot of a necessity for Turner at first base.
Along with Turner, James Paxton, and Adam Duvall are the opposite headlines among the many Crimson Sox’ impending free brokers. Paxton obtained off to a powerful begin in 2023, going 6-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 13 begins via the tip of July getting back from Tommy John surgical procedure. The southpaw struggled via August and the beginning of September, going 1-3 in his last six begins with a 7.62 ERA earlier than getting shut down for the season every week after his last begin.
The Crimson Sox opted to maintain Paxton on the deadline regardless of reportedly receiving curiosity in him. As he turns 35 on Monday, this offseason may very well be Paxton’s last probability to earn an honest payday in his profession. The Crimson Sox may additionally lengthen him the one-year, $20 million qualifying supply as a strategy to both hold him in Boston quickly or obtain draft decide compensation in the event that they misplaced him, although gamers of Paxton’s caliber usually don’t obtain the qualifying supply.
Duvall had a typical season for himself on the plate, hitting .247 with a .834 OPS to go along with 21 homers and 58 RBIs in 92 video games. As he hit significantly effectively at Fenway, Duvall may have some worth to the Crimson Sox in the event that they choose to maneuver Yoshida to designated hitter. Regardless of primarily taking part in heart subject final season, Duvall’s major place in his profession has been in left subject.
They’ve an apparent want, and by chance there are many free-agent choices to probably fill it.
Anybody who adopted the Crimson Sox within the second half of the season may understand that they wanted extra beginning pitching assist. Even after they stopped utilizing a three-man rotation, their starters didn’t pitch lengthy sufficient in video games persistently and the bullpen regarded worn out from the additional workload.
There are a number of high quality beginning pitchers set to hit free company this winter. Shohei Ohtani is clearly the most important identify of the group (extra on him later), however Blake Snell (the favourite to win NL Cy Younger later this month), Aaron Nola, Marcus Stroman, Sonny Grey, Jordan Montgomery, Lucas Giolito, Michael Lorenzen, Eduardo Rodriguez, Michael Wacha, and extra give the Crimson Sox loads of choices to assist fill out their rotation.
But, the most important prize on the pitching market is somebody who hasn’t performed in an MLB recreation. Yoshinobu Yamamoto is projected by a number of insiders to obtain the most important contract amongst all free-agent pitchers this offseason.
The 25-year-old righty has been traditionally dominant in Japan’s prime baseball league, Nippon Skilled Baseball, over the previous few years. Pitching for the Orix Buffaloes (the place he was as soon as teammates with Yoshida), Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA, a 0.860 WHIP, and recorded 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched this season. He’s additionally pitched two no-hitters on the yr and struck out a Japan Collection-record 14 hitters in an entire recreation on Friday, which was possible his final in Japan.
The thrill surrounding Yamamoto has dated for over a yr now, taking part in a job in Japan’s quest to win the World Baseball Traditional earlier in 2023. The Crimson Sox have been reportedly among the many groups to scout him over the summer time, too. Yamamoto doesn’t have sufficient service time be a free agent in Japan, so he’d must be acquired via the posting system.
Getting into the offseason, the Crimson Sox don’t have too many dependable choices at beginning pitcher. Brayan Bello, Chris Sale, and Tanner Houck are the one pitchers on their 40-man roster who have been solely used as beginning pitchers final yr.
There aren’t as many free-agent choices amongst positional gamers.
If the Crimson Sox need to make a splash by signing a bat this offseason, there aren’t many engaging choices.
Outdoors of Ohtani, many analysts listing Cody Bellinger as the highest positional participant who’ll hit the market this offseason, and that’s after he had a significant comeback season with the Cubs.
Past Ohtani and Bellinger, a number of the different prime hitting choices on the free-agent market embody third baseman Matt Chapman, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., first baseman Rhys Hoskins, outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, outfielder Jorge Soler, and designated hitters J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner.
So yeah, not the best group of gamers. However the Crimson Sox have six of their common starters from final yr (together with Trevor Story) slated to return as a part of a lineup that ranked fifth within the American League in runs.
If the Crimson Sox do need to spend as a way to repair the difficulty they’ve had at second base because the last seasons of Dustin Pedroia’s profession, Whit Merrifield may very well be the highest choice to offer a short-term repair. He declined his $18 million participant choice on Friday.
They’ve 5 arbitration-eligible gamers. Might considered one of them be traded?
The Crimson Sox don’t have many gamers to fret about in arbitration this offseason, with Alex Verdugo, Nick Pivetta, Reese McGuire, John Schreiber, and Luis Urías being their solely arbitration-eligible gamers.
Verdugo and Pivetta are the clear headliners of the group, with each coming into their last yr of arbitration in 2024 earlier than turning into eligible free of charge company in 2024. Verdugo is projected to earn $9.2 million in arbitration and Nick Pivetta is projected to obtain $6.9 in arbitration, per MLB Commerce Rumors arbitration estimates.
Each gamers have been notable contributors to the Crimson Sox over the previous few seasons. Verdugo has been their on a regular basis proper fielder ever since they acquired him for Mookie Betts in 2020, hitting .281 with a .761 OPS throughout his 4 seasons in Boston. Whereas Verdugo has put up strong numbers, he was benched a few instances final season and was rumored to be a potential commerce candidate on the deadline in July. With Jarren Duran’s emergence and Cedanne Rafaela’s call-up late final season, the Crimson Sox may view Verdugo as an expendable participant, particularly in the event that they re-sign Duvall.
Pivetta, in the meantime, had a powerful second half of the season, pitching strongly in an extended reduction position earlier than returning to the rotation. He went 5-4 with a 3.30 ERA in his last 16 outings of final yr, eight of which have been begins.
Schreiber and McGuire would most likely be more likely to keep contemplating the roles or effectiveness every participant had in 2023. McGuire is projected to earn $1.7 million in arbitration whereas Schreiber is projected to obtain $1.3 million in arbitration, per MLBTR.
Urías is projected to get $4.7 million in arbitration by MLBTR. That may very well be too hefty of a value for the Crimson Sox contemplating he hit .194 in his 52 video games between the Brewers. Urías is a non-tender candidate, which may enable the Crimson Sox to ship him on to free company.
They’ve an excellent quantity of cap room earlier than hitting the luxurious tax.
Breslow advised reporters on Thursday that he doesn’t “see monetary assets as a limiting issue” when constructing the Crimson Sox for subsequent season.
Nicely, they’ll have some cash to spend earlier than worrying in regards to the luxurious tax. The Crimson Sox presently have $199 million in salaries for subsequent season, together with the arbitration estimates, per Crimson Sox Payroll on X/Twitter. That leaves them with almost $38 million in cap house earlier than hitting the Aggressive Stability Luxurious Tax.
The Crimson Sox have a number of choices to notable clear wage as effectively, in the event that they’d like. Sale is coming into the ultimate yr of his massive contract and is about to earn $25.6 million subsequent season. Buying and selling Sale can be a threat contemplating their lack of choices within the beginning rotation in the intervening time, however the Crimson Sox may additionally really feel it isn’t price probably relying on him to be wholesome in 2024.
Kenley Jansen is the opposite participant who has a sizeable cap determine on an expiring deal for 2024. He’s set to earn $16 million within the last yr of his two-year deal subsequent yr. However would the Crimson Sox actually need to commerce their dependable nearer after having bullpen points for a number of years previous to signing him?
Shohei Ohtani is the large prize, however there may very well be one other massive fish on the market.
The summer time of Shohei continues into the winter, with the two-way celebrity hitting free company.
The sweepstakes to land Ohtani may very well be the priciest in not MLB historical past, if not the historical past of North American sports activities. A number of insiders have already speculated and projected that he’ll obtain the primary $500 million contract within the historical past of the game, even when he’s not going to pitch in 2024 after having Tommy John surgical procedure.
As groups across the league brace themselves for the Ohtani sweepstakes, the Crimson Sox are among the many bunch of groups seen as early potential suitors to land him. ESPN listed Boston as one of many 10 groups Ohtani will signal with, including that individuals across the star consider he’s been lengthy intrigued by the Crimson Sox.
If the Crimson Sox can’t pull off signing Ohtani, there may very well be one other celebrity they could be capable to land. Juan Soto has been speculated as a potential commerce candidate this winter. The 25-year-old star outfielder has yet another yr left earlier than hitting free company. After the Padres missed the playoffs with the third-highest payroll final season, it was reported by The Athletic earlier this week that the crew additionally took out a $50 million mortgage to assist cowl the payroll, resulting in additional hypothesis that Soto may very well be moved.
Time will inform what the Padres will do with Soto. And time can even inform us what the Crimson Sox can be like subsequent season as we’ll possible see lots of motion over the subsequent two months.
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