In a recent (pre-Story elbow surgery) Chad Jennings article from The Athletic (link below), Chad grades the Red Sox front office in 10 different categories on the results of their offseason objectives to date. Here are the grades and some excerpts:
1. Re-sign Xander Bogaerts - Grade: F
...the Red Sox openly and repeatedly declared their love for their shortstop. They intended to keep Bogaerts...[t]he front office called it a priority. It’s easy to see why it didn’t happen...but that doesn’t dull the sting, or erase the feeling that a Bogaerts extension never should have been left to the whims of the open market...without this piece, the Red Sox are unmistakably incomplete.
2. Sign Rafael Devers to an extension - Grade: A
...the end result is that Red Sox ownership has signed the sixth-largest contract in Major League history...while managing to avoid a commitment to Devers beyond his age-36 season when a meaningful decline seems inevitable. A big moment for the player and the franchise.
3. Add two starting pitchers - Grade: C-
The Red Sox never really suggested they were going after the very top of the rotation market...but after failed attempts to sign Nathan Eovaldi
, Zach Eflin
, and Andrew Heaney
...the one-year agreement with 37-year-old Corey Kluber
was an obvious consolation prize...the result is still a rotation that’s heavy on possibility and light on certainty.
4. New plan: Add a closer - Grade: B
As the mid-rotation market got a little more expensive than expected...the Red Sox changed course...they more fully embraced the possibility of Houck in the rotation by signing Kenley Jansen
. One person familiar with the team’s thinking said Red Sox had not necessarily planned to sign a closer, but another said they’d done plenty of homework on Jansen to prepare for that possibility. After missing out on Eflin, and growing discouraged about Eovaldi, they switched gears to fortify from the back end instead of the front.
5. Find a corner outfielder - Grade: B+
A five-year, $90-million deal with Japanese standout Masataka Yoshida has to be viewed through the lens of the free-agent alternatives. The Red Sox clearly needed a corner outfielder...but the market was basically Aaron Judge
and then a bunch of flawed possibilities...the Red Sox went with the one they felt had the greatest upside. The Red Sox had him at the top of their list, paid handsomely, and they got him.
6. Replace J.D. Martinez at designated hitter - Grade: B-
The Red Sox now have lefty hitters at all four corners and behind the plate. They needed a right-handed bat. They settled on Justin Turner
... The Red Sox, one team source said,...value his clubhouse presence. That said, José Abreu
probably would have been the best fit for this job, and the Red Sox fell short of signing him.
7. Improve late-inning stability - Grade: B
The Red Sox’s first free agent signing was lefty Joely Rodríguez
, a complementary piece... Their second addition...was Chris Martin
, one of the best strike-throwers in the game... For added depth, the Red Sox made a minor trade with the Royals
for reliever Wyatt Mills
. Given the alternatives, Jansen and Martin were a pretty good pair of headliners to add on top of Matt Barnes
, John Schreiber
and Josh Taylor
8. Maintain versatility and athleticism - Grade: C-
Depth and versatility have always been priorities for Bloom and Alex Cora, and with the new rules affecting shifts and base running, athleticism has become an even greater priority for Cora (and probably for the front office, too)... The Red Sox did protect David Hamilton
and Ceddanne Rafaela
from the Rule 5 draft, and they still have Jarren Duran
, but of those three, only Duran seems to have even a vague chance of making the Opening Day roster. The Red Sox still have at least one up-for-grabs spot on their bench.
9. Make the most of a crowded 40-man - Grade: D
The Red Sox liked Thaddeus Ward quite a bit, and the fact he was exposed to the Rule 5 draft...was a reflection of the crowded 40-man more than anything else. The team used some open 40-man spots at the start of the offseason to make minor additions in hopes of passing them through waivers eventually — it worked with catcher Caleb Hamilton — but the 40-man crunch has otherwise gone unresolved. ...they still have to open 40-man spots for Turner and Kluber (and anyone else they might acquire) and there are no easy cuts remaining. There’s also no clear role for Bobby Dalbec
, who remains on the roster.
10. New priority: Improve the roster via trade - Grade: Incomplete
There are still ways for free agency to improve the Red Sox at the margins. But the Red Sox began the offseason with a priority of re-signing Bogaerts, and without him, they still need impact...it’s going to have to come through the trade market. Ideally, the Red Sox could trade for an up-the-middle bat to replace Bogaerts, but there just aren’t many hitters like that available. Especially not ones the Red Sox can get without surrendering important young pieces of their big league roster... The trick might be doing a deal without losing Triston Casas
or Brayan Bello
, each of whom the Red Sox plan to have in key big league roles this season.