Red Sox Need to Improve on a Disappointing 2022 Season.
Now that the World Series is over, the offseason is now officially here, and the hot stove will be getting warm shortly. The Red Sox are looking to improve in almost every aspect this winter. After finishing last place in the AL East this year with a record of 78-84, there are many holes that need to be filled.
Xander Bogaerts has officially opted out of the remainder of his 6 year, $120 million contract with the Red Sox. The four-time all star shortstop is the main priority this year for the front office, and there are still emerging details on meetings between Bogaerts and the Red Sox. Another top priority this winter is third baseman slugger, Rafael Devers. Devers still has one more year before he hits free agency. However, there is an urgency to extend him this winter so there is no risk of losing him in free agency.
With Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers being the main components to focus on this offseason, there are still other moves that could be made this winter that could result in success in 2023. So with that being said, here are some potential targets that I believe the Red Sox should pursue:
Carlos Rodón has become a free agent after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco Giants after only one year. Rodón finished this season with a 2.88 ERA and 237 strikeouts over 178.0 innings pitched. He will be entering his age 30 season and is set to clear the $100 million dollar mark for his projected contract. Rodón struggled last year with a shoulder injury, but after making a career-high 31 starts in 2022, it seems that his shoulder should be no issue.
The Red Sox starting rotation in 2022 was very iffy. There were standout studs like Michael Wacha and Brayan Bello, but there were also long stretches of inconsistency coming from the rest of the rotation. Bringing in a starting pitcher like Carlos Rodón could be exactly what the Red Sox need, especially if Chris Sale is returning healthy in the Spring.
2. Alexis Diaz
Alexis Diaz is a right-handed reliever for the Cincinnati Reds who just finished off a very dominant rookie season. Diaz finished this year with a 1.84 ERA and a .958 WHIP with 83 strikeouts over 63.2 relief innings pitched. Diaz is nothing short of nasty. With a fastball that can reach 96 mph and a slider that has a Whiff% of 45%, the potential is very high in this rookie reliever.
A trade package for a rookie reliever like Alexis Diaz may not be very much, especially for a rebuilding team like the Reds. It may only take a major league player like Jarren Duran along with a couple prospects to secure a player like Alexis Diaz, with 5 more years left of team control. The Boston bullpen is in dire need for an upgrade. The Red Sox led the league in blown saves this year with 28, along with an ERA of 4.53. It will take a little more than just one more arm, acquiring Alexis Diaz could be a spark plug for this hurting bullpen.
3. Michael Wacha
Michael Wacha was a very bright spot this year for the Red Sox. He put up a 3.32 ERA and a 1.115 WHIP over 127.1 innings pitched. Michael Wacha has struggled with several teams before landing with the Red Sox in 2022. But this year, he proved himself to still be a dominant starting pitcher.
Wacha’s history with injuries is the main concern. Even this past year, he spent some rather long time on the injured list with a shoulder injury. But, injuries aside, it still looked promising as he was by far the most consistent starter for the Red Sox in 2022. Wacha’s 1 year with the Red Sox was for $7 million, which is fair given the risk and the reward. I believe the Red Sox should give him another go, but this time for a 2-3 year deal. The injuries will happen, we’ve seen it before with Nathan Eovaldi, but it’s safe to say that Michael Wacha has proved himself as a reliable pitcher who could hold down the 3 or 4 spot in the rotation.
4. Brandon Nimmo
The center fielder market is pretty shallow this winter. And the Red Sox outfield was down right messy in 2022. Brandon Nimmo is a free agent center fielder who just finished this past season with a slash line of .274/.367/.433. Nimmo is a well rounded player who can provide speed and fielding, as well as being an on base machine.
A signing like Brandon Nimmo can be reliable, but it will come with a price tag. He is currently projected to sign for $145 million over 7 years, with an AAV of $20.7 a year. But I believe this signing would work out in the long run. As said before, the Red Sox outfield was tough to watch. Alex Verdugo showed some of the only promising signs this past year, and even that may not be enough to sustain this outfield. Brandon Nimmo could bring some reliability back to the outfield, while also building upon it with players like the next one listed below.
5. Aaron Judge
The biggest fish in the pond, Aaron Judge. Judge is coming off of an MVP caliber season after blasting 62 homeruns to set the American League Record. Judge slashed an insane .311/.425/.686 with 131 RBIs.
The Red Sox power was down all throughout the lineup in 2022. And with losing designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, there is a large hole left in the heart of the lineup. Aaron Judge would be the ultimate signing, especially if the Red Sox are able to lock down Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers on top of it. But of course, Aaron Judge is going to be the most expensive free agent potentially ever, which makes it tough. The projected contract for Judge is set to be around $330 million over 9 years, for an AAV of $36.6 million a year. But nonetheless, Aaron Judge would be the fix to a struggling lineup, along with being a gold glove right fielder.
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