Red Sox Must Reevaluate Priorities to Succeed in Free Agency

As the final strike was called on Sept. 25, 2022, the Boston Red Sox’s longtime rivals, the New York Yankees, celebrated a win and inched closer to a division title. For the Red Sox, however, this loss officially eliminated them from postseason contention. The regular season ended with three of the five teams in the American League East qualified to play in the postseason and the Red Sox planned to be there in the 2022 season following a deep postseason run in 2021, but they look forward to the 2023 season and here’s how they do it.

The first goal is to re-sign shortstop Xander Bogaerts. When Bogaerts was called up to the team in 2013, he joined a future World Series-winning team with the likes of Red Sox legends David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester. From there on, he’s been the leader that the Red Sox needed. Bogaerts used his hitting talents to win four Silver Slugger awards and be named to the American League All-Star team four times as well. Posting a 117 OPS+ and 118 wRC+ with the club, Bogaerts demonstrated the hitting ability that sparked him and the Red Sox to win two World Series titles within his time in Boston. 

When free agency opens, Bogaerts has a player option to become a free agent and the Red Sox absolutely should not let him go. Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story signed a deal last offseason and played shortstop during his time with the Colorado Rockies, but with abysmal statistics and an injury-filled 2022 season, fans may be doubtful as to why Bogaerts will not take his rightful spot at shortstop next season. Red Sox president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said that Bogaerts is their “number one priority” in the offseason. Fans hope that management can follow through on their promise. 

The second goal that the Red Sox should focus on is to forget about the past seasons. The contracts of Red Sox All-Star designated hitter J.D Martinez and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi are set to expire at the start of the winter offseason and they may find teams elsewhere. Martinez’s bat was something that the Red Sox needed ahead of the 2018 season after finishing last in home runs the previous year and he brought that power.

Eovaldi was acquired by the Red Sox via the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline in 2018. When joining the team, he turned into a nightmare for opposing batters. His postseason heroics earned him a four-year, $68 million contract with the Red Sox.

These players have become fan favorites of Red Sox Nation, but it may be time for the team to move on to other potential players. Martinez struck out at a 26.3% clip this past season and Eovaldi was riddled with injuries that sidelined him for much of the year. As they get older, their talents are going to be inefficient for a team that plans to play baseball in October.

The third goal for the Red Sox should be to go after starting pitching, relief pitching, all of it. Year after year, Red Sox fans are used to the feeling of slugging against the opposing team’s pitchers at an elite level. Hitting does not instantly make a team better, so the Red Sox need to upgrade the pitching staff. The bullpen for the Red Sox was ranked as the fifth worst in Major League Baseball with a combined ERA of 4.59, walking 268 batters and the ninth worst WHIP at a 1.35 ratio. The rotation wasn’t much better either, walking 258 batters and opposing teams hitting .256 off the staff.

There are three pitchers available on the free agent market that the Red Sox could potentially target to achieve this goal: starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Martin Perez, as well as relief pitcher Taylor Rogers. These pitchers are affordable for the payroll that the team could use this upcoming offseason and beyond and all three pitchers have taken the trip to the All-Star Game.

The fact of the matter is the Red Sox need to spend their money wisely. The offensive side of the team is the strongest asset they possess, but management may want to shift their attention to the pitching staff due to the staff ranking near the bottom in MLB. The American League East has proved to be one of the toughest divisions to play in Major League Baseball. If they want to have a chance of competing, the Red Sox should consider making moves this offseason to improve themselves on the field before the pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in February.