5 potential infield targets for Red Sox

January 18th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

In a month, the 2023 Red Sox will be gathered under the warm sun of Fort Myers, Fla. It stands to reason that some of the current holes on the roster will be filled by then.

They crossed off one area of need on Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year, $7 million deal with Adam Duvall, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. The club hasn't confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical.

This is what we know: Xander Bogaerts is with the Padres and Trevor Story is out indefinitely following right elbow surgery. With Kiké Hernández likely to wind up in the infield at second or short, and Duvall slotting in at center, the Sox would need one middle infielder.

Here is a look at some candidates on the market.

Elvis Andrus. The 34-year-old free agent sure seems like the best of all the available options that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has at his disposal. After hitting just three homers for Oakland in 2021, Andrus regained some pop last season, mashing 17 homers while splitting his season between the A’s and White Sox. Andrus really thrived with Chicago, going deep nine times in 181 at-bats. The veteran still has speed, as evidenced by his 18 stolen bases last season. And he remains a dependable shortstop.

If the Sox can sign Andrus, he would be the unquestioned starting shortstop, giving Bloom clarity in how to construct the rest of the roster. Also, if Story did come back this year, the presence of Andrus would allow him to remain at second base -- which would be less taxing on his elbow -- until 2024.

Ha-Seong Kim. Unlike Andrus, Kim is not a free agent. He is with the San Diego Padres. Could it be that the Padres’ signing of Bogaerts helps steer Kim to Boston? San Diego does have a glut of athletes in their infield, which could make the club best-served packaging Kim to help feel out other areas of the club. If a Kim to Boston trade becomes a reality, it isn’t hard to imagine the Red Sox would make righty swingman Tanner Houck a centerpiece of that deal. Houck isn’t eligible for free agency until 2028.

As for Kim, he played in 150 games last season, chipping in with 29 doubles, three triples and 12 stolen bases. He will earn a reasonable salary of $6 million in 2023 before getting bumped up to $7 million in ’24. Wondering about defense? The 27-year-old from South Korea was a Rawlings Gold Glove finalist last season.

Jurickson Profar. The 29-year-old from Curaçao played 152 games for a top-contending Padres club last year, getting nearly all his playing time in left field. But he is a highly versatile defender, with experience at all four infield positions and the other two outfield positions. Profar isn’t a star on offense, but he is a nice contributor and hit 15 homers last year. His switch-hitting bat also adds value.

Joey Wendle. The Marlins just moved Miguel Rojas in a trade to the Dodgers, meaning Wendle could become the club’s Opening Day shortstop. But that’s dependent on Wendle not getting traded either. Marlins general manager Kim Ng said following the Rojas trade that she isn’t ruling anything out for the rest of the offseason. Just like Rojas, Wendle is entering his final year before free agency.

Wendle is a player who Bloom has plenty of familiarity with from the two years they spent together with the Rays. Another thing to keep in mind about Wendle: He is a doubles hitter. Those type of hitters typically fit right in at Fenway. Wendle rotated from second to short to third last season. He obviously wouldn’t need to play much third in Boston given the presence of Rafael Devers, but his experience up the middle makes him a good fit. As a left-handed bat, he could fit in nicely in a platoon with Christian Arroyo.

José Iglesias. How about a third stint in Boston for Iglesias, who started his career with the Red Sox following his defection from Cuba? When Iglesias joined the Sox for the final month of the 2021 season, he boosted the team’s playoff push with a hot streak on offense and his energy and leadership in the clubhouse. Iglesias is younger than you probably think at 33 years old, and he hit .292 with the Rockies last year. A shortstop for most of his career, Iglesias proved in his return stint to Boston that he is a strong second baseman as well.