BOSTON -- With a new CBA in place and Spring Training set to start soon in sunny Fort Myers, Fla., it’s time for a refresher on what the Red Sox have done so far this offseason and what could be ahead.
After a surprising 92-70 finish in the 2021 regular season and a postseason run that didn’t end until Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox are hoping to take another step forward in 2022.
What deals have already gotten done?
With hours to spare before the prior CBA expired, the Red Sox made three significant transactions.
The first was a one-year, $10 million deal for veteran lefty James Paxton that included options for the 2023 and ’24 seasons. The options are the most relevant part of this deal, because Paxton is coming off Tommy John surgery and won’t pitch until midseason at the earliest.
The second move was a reunion contract with hometown lefty Rich Hill, who signed for one year at $5 million and could be an invaluable swingman -- even in his age 42 season.
Then came a somewhat surprising deal in which slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe was dealt to Milwaukee in a trade that brought stud defender Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. In the deal, the Red Sox also landed two Minor League infielders: David Hamilton and Alex Binelas, who were ranked by MLB Pipeline as Nos. 16 and 17 among Brewers prospects. Hamilton is a middle infielder while Binelas plays the corners.
The Sox had already added more depth to the rotation in November by signing righty Michael Wacha for one year at $7 million.
What are the biggest remaining needs and who might they target to fill these holes?
The Red Sox need help in the bullpen, that much is clear. One fix could be internal, if Matt Barnes can regain his groove after his mysterious collapse in the second half of last season. Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ primary closer for nearly a decade, is the top name on the free agent market. But that doesn’t seem like chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s kind of move. It could be more likely the Sox patch their relief holes via the trade market.
A right-handed bat is also a need following the departure of Renfroe. Reports out of Japan stated the Red Sox were heavily engaged in talks with outfielder Seiya Suzuki. The 27-year-old belted 38 homers for the Hiroshima Carp last season.
Which of their free agents already signed elsewhere?
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who won 64 games for the Red Sox over six seasons, signed with the Tigers.
Might there be a reunion with any of their remaining free agents?
Kyle Schwarber was a perfect fit with the Red Sox down the stretch in 2021, and a key reason the club had such a productive playoff run. Bloom has gone on record several times saying the club has interest in retaining Schwarber, who is a disciplined and powerful hitter.
Are there any players they are looking to trade?
Bloom is always looking to make trades, but there don’t seem to be any obvious trade targets on the current roster. Bobby Dalbec and J.D. Martinez could be trade candidates if Schwarber is re-signed. Martinez will certainly be a bat of interest with the universal DH in play.
What outstanding arbitration cases are on the docket?
The big one is star slugger Rafael Devers. The Sox have two years of club control with the third baseman, and many fans would be comforted if he signed a long-term contract to stay in Boston. Outfielder Alex Verdugo, righty starter Nick Pivetta, second baseman Christian Arroyo and lefty Josh Taylor are the team’s other arbitration-eligible players.
How many open spots are there on the 40-man roster?
Boston’s roster currently stands at 39, giving Bloom the option of adding one player without having to subtract one. However, there could be a lot of maneuvering before Spring Training starts. Bloom has never shied away from roster chaos in the quest to improve his teams.