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Offseason checklist: Sox's needs and moves

@IanMBrowne
December 2, 2019

BOSTON -- After a letdown season in 2019 that resulted in 84 wins and no playoffs, the Red Sox are spending the offseason regrouping as they attempt to get back to the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons. There is a new leader of the front office in

BOSTON -- After a letdown season in 2019 that resulted in 84 wins and no playoffs, the Red Sox are spending the offseason regrouping as they attempt to get back to the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons.

There is a new leader of the front office in chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to help Boston get back on track.

So what are the club's biggest needs entering 2020, and what moves have they made to address them? MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Starting pitching
The Red Sox have $79 million committed to Chris Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi for next season, but all of them had injuries in 2019. Eduardo Rodriguez had a breakout season with 19 wins, but Rick Porcello is likely to depart as a free agent. At the very least, the Sox are going to have to replace Porcello and also improve their depth in the event that there are more injuries for Sale, Price and Eovaldi. Bloom's ability to think outside the box cold come in handy here, as the Sox aren't going to be big buyers, given ownership's desire to get the payroll below the first luxury-tax threshold of $208 million.

Bullpen
The decision the Red Sox made not to replace Craig Kimbrel and go with a closer-by-committee approach backfired, at least early in the season. Matt Barnes was inconsistent and Ryan Brasier found himself back in the Minors by July. However, Brandon Workman developed into a lights-out closer the last couple of months of the season. While the Sox would like to add another arm or two in the bullpen, it's possible Workman could get the chance to be the closer in 2020.

Right side of the infield
First basemen Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce are both free agents. The same is true of Brock Holt, who has played a lot of second base the last two years covering for the injured Dustin Pedroia. Speaking of Pedroia, it still seems unlikely he'll be able to come back, but no decision has been made. At the very least, Bloom is likely to be seeking some complementary players for the right side of the infield. Michael Chavis can play first and second, providing manager Alex Cora with a right-handed bat. If Holt and/or Moreland sign elsewhere, Bloom is all but certain to look for a lefty bat.

Backup catcher
With Christian Vázquez emerging as a true No. 1 catcher and the Sox trading Sandy Leon, who hasn't done much at the plate since 2016, to the Indians, Boston will look for a backup. Bloom will now be on the hunt for a cost-effective replacement for León.

MOVES MADE
Dec. 2: León traded

The Red Sox dealt veteran Sandy Leon to the Indians in exchange for Minor League right-hander Adenys Bautista. León, entering his final year of arbitration, earned $2.475 million last season. He was widely expected to get non-tendered, but the Red Sox instead found a new home for him in Cleveland while getting Bautista back in return.

November 27: Johnson outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket
Lefty Brian Johnson, an invaluable swingman just two seasons ago, wasn’t nearly as reliable in 2019. The Sox outrighted him to Triple-A Pawtucket after he cleared release waivers. This means Johnson is no longer on the 40-man roster and would need to be a non-roster invitee to come to Major League Spring Training.

November 20: 40-man finalized
To make sure all the necessary players were protected for the Rule 5 Draft, the Sox added their top power-hitting prospect to the 40-man roster in corner infielder Bobby Dalbec, who is ranked second among Sox Minor Leaguers by MLB Pipeline. The Sox also added No. 9 prospect C.J. Chatham (infielder), No. 18 prospect Marcus Wilson (outfielder), No. 28 prospect Kyle Hart (lefty starter) and No. 30 prospect Yoan Aybar (lefty reliever) to the 40-man roster.

Oct. 31: Osich claimed off waivers
The first official player transaction for Bloom as a member of the Red Sox was a modest one to be sure --- the claiming of lefty Josh Osich off waivers from the White Sox. While Darwinzon Hernandez gives Cora a potentially dominant relief arm from the left side, Osich has a chance to earn a spot as a left-on-left matchup reliever.

Oct. 18: Wright released
After three injury-plagued seasons, the Red Sox released knuckleballer Steven Wright six weeks ahead of the non-tender date. News came out shortly after the transaction that Wright is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery this offseason and won't pitch at all in 2020.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.