After winning the World Series, the Red Sox will be sure not to get complacent heading into the offseason.
After a strong 2016 season, the Boston Red Sox struggled in 2017 with many of their key players regressing. Despite the fact that this ball club won the World Series, regression is always a possibility Boston could face. That is why I believe it is important for Boston to add to their squad in order to ensure repetitive dominance. The starting lineup looks to be pretty set, but adding depth should be a priority for the Red Sox.
It is a good idea to identify possible areas of regression in order to cover yourself if things go sour.
Depth and Power
As you may remember, in 2017 the Red Sox desperately needed power. The acquisition of JD Martinez solved this, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that our power bats regress again in 2019. That’s why I suggest that Boston should look to add another player with power to play in a platoon role and assist off the bench.
This acquisition can come in the form of a backup outfielder due to JBJ’s offensive inconsistency. Having an extra bat who can come off the bench in favorable lefty / righty matchups, and who can allow us to rely less on JBJ, would be ideal. Likewise, a platoon third baseman could be another opportunity for a power bat. While a fantastic young talent, Devers did not deliver great production during the season. Moreover, he is a young player, so inconsistency is always a possibility. This would be a good area for Boston to cover due to the possibility of a lack of consistent production at third next year. Furthermore, with Pedroia’s injury history, it could be wise to add some cover there as well. Lastly, first base could also be prone to regression if the Sox do not re-sign Pearce. Mitch Moreland is great but relying solely on him to deliver production is not an optimal situation. You would like to maintain the left / right matchups, as well as cover in case Moreland regresses.
You can never have enough pitching in baseball. While the Red Sox bullpen was good in 2018, especially in the playoffs, it could be improved. Another reliever or two to go along with the likes of Kimbrel, Barnes, Kelly, and Brasier would be a smart addition. Tyler Thornburg could come back from injury and return to his top form, but that is not a bet I want to make.
After watching the postseason, the starting pitching should be fine if they retain the services of Eovaldi. A Sale-Price-Porcello-Eovaldi-Rodriguez rotation is one of the better ones in baseball, especially with Steven Wright as a depth option. If Boston really wanted to go all-in, they could try to add another top arm to the rotation; however, I think this is unlikely given that they are already over the luxury tax threshold.
What I Would Do
First, Dave Dombrowski will have to decide who to re-sign from our own players. I believe the Red Sox absolutely have to sign Craig Kimbrel, despite the postseason play and contract demands. He is an elite closer in baseball and our bullpen desperately needs him. I would also attempt to keep Joe Kelly since his potential is quite obvious. He is inconsistent but worth the risk. I do not know what to do with Drew Pomeranz, so we will just forget about him for this article.
In terms of general free agency and/or trades, I believe the Red Sox should make at least 2 moves (keeping in mind their already large payroll). First, they should acquire a cheaper, depth player with some power who can play either second base, third base or the outfield. Secondly, they need to add at least one quality relief pitcher on top of keeping who they currently have. This should be done not only for protection against regression, but as a way to elevate Boston’s bullpen to a top 5 status.
I would ideally like a lefty since we don’t have a consistent one out of the ‘pen, but I don’t think it matters too much. Adding production to the catcher position would be ideal, but taking into account the current market as well as Boston’s salary situation, I think the Red Sox will roll into 2019 with Vazquez and Leon.
Projecting the 2019 Boston Red Sox
RF Mookie Betts
1B Steve Pearce
CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.
1B Mitch Moreland
2B/3B/OF Power Bat
IF/OF Brock Holt
Chris Sale (L)
David Price (L)
Rick Porcello (R)
Nathan Eovaldi (R)
Notable extra players (injury call-ups):
With the exception of a rare offensive catcher, this lineup is completely without holes. There is balance, depth, power, and contact hitters throughout, as well as formidable bench options. This covers Boston if any of the starters regress, while also providing legitimate depth players. The fact that Nunez would start the season in AAA (unless he wins the job in spring training from Brock Holt) is an absolute testament to this lineup. I also believe he wouldn’t be in AAA long since injuries are very common.
The starting rotation is one of the best in baseball and this bullpen is now capable of being a top 5 unit in all of baseball. I do not think the Red Sox need to do much this off-season to maintain their dominance, but executing these moves would ensure they remain at the top of the baseball world.