Let’s imagine it’s October of 2022 again. The Red Sox season has just ended after a lackluster 78-84 record and the future of some key players is unsure. Kiké Hernandez just signed a one-year extension with the promise from Chaim Bloom that next year’s team will be “much better” than the past season. Based on the situation around the luxury tax and the looming free agents, it’s hard to believe it.
The loss of Xander Bogaerts has left a dark cloud looming over the offseason. Losing your second homegrown future hall-of-famer in three years is a bad look. This fanbase is not shy of letting the front office know this either. This was most evident during this past Winter Weekend. However, fans should not jump ship yet, because this offseason has actually been quite good so far for the Red Sox.
Let’s Look Around the Room
What have the other teams in the AL East done? The Yankees virtually have the same roster as last year besides adding Carlos Rodón. Even after being exposed for many holes in the lineup in the second half of the season. The Blue Jays have added Chris Bassitt, Kevin Kiermaier, and Daulton Varsho. While not bad additions, they don’t move the needle much for a team who can’t get past the wild card round. The Rays essentially just gave extensions to their roster. And the Baltimore Orioles signed Adam Frazier. Not much happening there.
The Red Sox are the only team in the division to actually improve their roster from last year. The additions of Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen bring a veteran presence in the clubhouse along with a very solid DH bat and a league-leader in saves closer in the bullpen.
Speaking of the bullpen, the Red Sox bullpen now looks very good. The Red Sox haven’t had a closer since 2018 with Craig Kimbrel, arguably the best closer of the decade. And now they have arguably the other best closer of the decade with Kenley Jansen. Along with Jansen, the Sox have signed Joely Rodriguez, Chris Martin, and have recently added Richard Bleier from Miami in exchange for Matt Barnes.
This Lineup is Starting to Look Legit.
One of the other low moments this offseason was the loss of Trevor Story due to a bracing surgery on his UCL. It’s unsure when he will return, if at all this season. The signing of Story last year was an odd one given the Red Sox knew about the real possibility of him needing surgery on his arm. But regardless, the front office had probably the best reaction to this news by moving Kiké Hernandez back to the infield while also signing Adam Duvall to bolster the outfield. Also, the trade for Adalberto Mondesi is very low risk with high reward if he can manage to stay healthy.
Adding Adam Duvall was crucial for putting this Red Sox outfield back together while also getting a power bat. The outfield defense has been sloppy the past couple of years. So getting a gold glove center fielder who has the potential to hit 20+ home runs in 2022 is a real nice addition.
The Sox now have a new leadoff hitter in Masataka Yoshida. He is projected to be an on-base machine and to have a batting average hovering near .300. If Yoshida can manage to get close to that while hitting 15 home runs, then he is already a huge addition at the top of the order while being a solid outfield glove. And on top of all of this, the Red Sox have also managed to add some depth with the signings of catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Ramiel Tapia.
And did we all forget that the Red Sox gave Rafael Devers the largest contract in Red Sox history to keep him here for the next 11 years? That’s huge.
Three More Wins
The common consensus is that if the Red Sox can be a .500 team this season, this season will already be more watchable than 2022. If a .500 season is what makes this team more bearable to watch in 2023, that’s three more wins than last year. The Red Sox had 28 blown saves last year. Three less losses and that makes it watchable? The bullpen is already much, much better than it has looked in recent years. Along with a fresh new face of a lineup that has the potential to bring the production that was lacking in 2022. It’s okay to raise the bar and expect more from this team than just three more wins.
Could the Red Sox really have done anything that much better given their situation? They have remained under the luxury tax, heavily improved the bullpen, have put together a new, solid lineup, all while retaining their top prospects. Now there are many ways that this offseason could fail to pan out. The rotation is still unsure. Guys like Duvall or Turner may not reach expectations. But to say the Red Sox haven’t done anything productive this winter given their situation is just unaware of the improvements from last season.
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