Despite winning a World Series title, the Red Sox will need to make a few moves in order to defend their crown.
The Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, and did so relatively easily, going 11-3 in the postseason. The team finished with a team record 108 wins. So it is safe to say, the pieces the Sox have in place are pretty good. However, there are holes. The team is going to need another starter, and spoiler alert, we won’t be able to re-sign Nathan Eovaldi.
The bullpen may have come alive in the postseason, but for the first 162, they looked real shaky. The Sox could have, and should have, swept the Dodgers in the World Series, but Ian Kinsler took the field seemingly inebriated in Game 4. Thankfully, he will likely not be returning for the 2019 campaign. However, the return of Dustin Pedroia will be in place at second. As much as Pedroia is my favorite player ever, even I can admit he needs a platoon-mate at the position, as he should under no circumstances play more than 110 games out there. Lastly, J.D. Martinez may be great with the bat, but I never want to see him playing RF at Fenway again.
Therefore this offseason, the Red Sox need to add to this already unbeatable roster. I will attempt to find the best, and most realistic, options for the bullpen, infield, and outfield off the free agent market.
As a staff (Price, Sale, Porcello, Rodriguez, Eovaldi) the Red Sox had a combined 2.59 ERA. This is pretty good. However, Sale, Price, and Rodriguez all have been plagued by different injuries the last couple of years and Eovaldi is going to cost too much to bring back. So, they are going to have to go find someone cheaper on the market to be a fifth starter. While it would be great to go after more high profile names like Dallas Keuchel or J.A. Happ, they will probably be outside of our price range as we try to focus on extending big names like Mookie and Xander.
One solution could be lefty, Gio Gonzalez. Not a flashy name, but definitely a recognizable one from his time in the Washingtion Nationals rotation. Last year, he posted a mediocre 4.57 ERA in 27 games for the Nationals, going only 7-11. A midseason trade to the Milwaukee Brewers seemed to light a fire for Gonzalez, as he pitched much better, going 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA.
While I do not think he could post stats that stellar for an entire season, I think he could hang in the mid-three’s and serve as a great fifth option for the Sox.
The first move has to be bringing back Joe Kelly. I don’t currently see a situation where Craig Kimbrel will re-sign, especially with how high the interest level league wide is. There are teams with plenty of money to spend that would love his services (a reunion with the Atlanta Braves seems likely). So if we are going to lose our hard throwing closer, we have to keep Kelly around. He is inconsistent, but if he can be even close to what he was in the postseason this year, he will help the bullpen immensely.
Secondly, the ‘pen needs a left-handed arm. Last year, the only lefty was Bobby Poyner, and he spent most of the year bouncing between AAA and the big leagues. While most will point to Andrew Miller as the biggest target, I think we could get a strong left-handed reliever for cheaper. Miller is coming off a year plagued with injuries, but Tony Sipp posted one of the best seasons of his career. He saw two atrocious years in 2016 and 2017, posting a 4.95 and 5.79 ERA respectively, but last year he saw a resurgence. In 54 appearances, Sipp had a 1.86 ERA, allowing only eight runs in 54 appearances. This seems like the type of lefty-lefty matchup pitcher the Sox bullpen desperately needs.
Another relatively cheap pick up would be to add right-hander Tyler Clippard. He pitched very well last year for a struggling Blue Jays team, posting a 3.67 ERA over 73 appearances. He eats innings, and that could be huge for a team that has two starters (Porcello and E-Rod) who seem to rarely make it out of the fifth inning.
Obviously, the Red Sox have a returning Eduardo Nunez and super-utility player Brock Holt for next season. However, with Eduardo’s shaky defense and injury issues, I see a big chance he does not make it past spring training with the club. Pedroia will be back, and will presumably, start at second base. Rafael Devers should take another big leap in his third season of big league action, but he can still be a defensive liability at times.
The Red Sox should seek to add a player who can play not only second, but third as well. That is where Asdrubal Cabrera comes in. Again, picking up a veteran (Cabrera is 33 and going into his 14th Major League season) as they did last season with Kinsler and the season prior with the trade for Nunez seems to be working for the Sox. Cabrera adds an element that neither of those two do though, power. The natural shortstop has averaged nearly 19 homeruns for the last four seasons, and had a career high of 25 homers in his 2011 All-Star campaign.
While you cannot expect that player, the team will get a veteran who can continue to help the defensive development of Devers, and help provide rest for Pedroia when the knees inevitably start to act up again.
The Red Sox have the best outfield in Major League Baseball – it’s not a hyperbole to say that. When you blend together the defense, offense, speed, there is no platoon that is better. However, JD should exclusively be a DH from now on. While he is still a solid positional player, imagine how great he would hit if he did not even have to think about fielding a fly ball. When trying to add to this team, one thing the Sox need is speed. While Mookie did steal 30 bases last year, there are not many others that I would look to late in the game to make a difference on the basepaths.
We did not have that Dave Roberts-esque pinch runner who could come in and take second to give you the advantage. The Sox could seek to add Cameron Maybin. In the last two seasons, between stints with four different teams (including winning the World Series with the Astros in 2018) Maybin has stolen a combined 61 bases. He’s nothing special with a bat in his hands, but he would provide a speed boost off the bench, effectively taking the Sox from the third most stolen bases in the league, to number one.
For the love of God, can Dombrowski please go after Wilson Ramos? Our catchers are fantastic on the defensive end, but having to sit through another season of essentially only having eight batters because Vasquez and Leon can barely reach the Mendoza line will be brutal.
The Red Sox were your 2018 World Champions, but the rich can always get richer.
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