After missing the playoffs the past two seasons -- including a last-place finish in the American League East in 2020 -- Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has been busy improving the roster for the coming season.
Bloom will keep all options open between now and Opening Day to make other improvements, but the Red Sox could be just about done with their winter shopping.
A true closer
Though Matt Barnes got some experience as a closer last season and Ottavino has occasionally worked in that role, the Red Sox don’t have a lockdown reliever for the ninth inning. It remains to be seen if Bloom will prioritize this or allow the Red Sox to be more open-minded in how they close games. The Sox do appear to have bullpen help on the way, as they are on the verge of finalizing a deal with Japanese veteran righty Hirokazu Sawamura, who spent most of his career in the NPB with the Yomiuri Giants.
Another left-handed bat
With rookie Bobby Dalbec currently the favorite to be the starting first baseman, the Red Sox could use a complementary left-handed bat as insurance. Don’t rule out a reunion with Mitch Moreland. Travis Shaw -- another former Red Sox -- is also a free agent and plays both corner spots.
Closure with JBJ/clarity in center
Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston’s primary center fielder for the past several years, remains a free agent. While it seems unlikely he comes back to Boston, Bloom continually says he is keeping the lines of communication open with Bradley.
Alex Verdugo currently projects to be the starting center fielder, with the chance for prospect Jarren Duran to become a factor by mid- to late-season. Andrew Benintendi was dealt to the Royals, meaning there will be a competition for playing time at the corner outfield spots.
Feb. 10: Red Sox trade LF Andrew Benintendi, acquire LF Franchy Cordero
The Sox sent Benintendi and cash considerations to the Kansas City Royals in three-team trade that also included the Mets. The Red Sox got outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named from the Royals. From the Mets, Boston received righty pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named.
Feb. 3: RHP Garrett Richards signs one-year, $10 million contract
The power righty can be an effective middle-of-the-rotation starter when healthy. The Red Sox will need him to be just that to get back to the postseason.
Feb. 2: INF/OF Kiké Hernández signs two-year, $14 million contract
Hernández will get every chance to become the team’s starting second baseman. He will also move to other positions on days manager Alex Cora needs him to.
Jan. 25: RHP Adam Ottavino and RHP prospect Frank German acquired from Yankees for player to be named or cash
In Ottavino, the Red Sox get an established setup man who dominates righties. The added value in the deal is German, a righty Boston talent evaluators have been high on for years.
Dec. 23: RHP Matt Andriese signs one-year, $2.5 million contract
Yes, the Red Sox still have more significant moves to make on the pitching front if they are going to compete for a playoff spot in ’21, but Andriese (183 career appearances, 50 starts) offers some depth for the rotation and the bullpen.
Dec. 14: Hunter Renfroe signs one-year, $3.1 million contract
Renfroe gives the Red Sox a power bat from the right side that should be able to do some serious damage against left-handers, particularly at Fenway Park. How significant a role he plays will depend on if the club makes any more outfield additions this winter.
Dec. 10: Whitlock taken in Rule 5 Draft
The Red Sox took right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Whitlock has a 12-8 record and a 2.41 ERA in 42 Minor League appearances (38 starts). Whitlock was particularly impressive in 2018, notching a 1.86 ERA over 23 appearances for three affiliates.