I was making the rounds on the Red Sox news circuit yesterday when I came to a sudden realization. This is going to be a boring offseason.
Granted, it’s still incredibly early on. The non-tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players (the first major offseason date) is later tonight at 8 pm ET. The Winter Meetings don’t kick off until December 9th. MLB’s hot stove has been relatively cool thus far, outside of a handful of moves ranging from “Indifferent Shrug” to “Okay, That’s Interesting”. Both New York teams have led the charge by shopping at the Great Seattle Mariners Fire Sale of 2018. The Yankees acquired lefty James Paxton on November 20. Meanwhile, the Mets traded for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The Red Sox, for their part, haven’t really been involved in much of the early action. There haven’t been any rumors of that changing any time soon.
That makes total sense for a 108-win champion coming off of the best season in franchise history. Boston will likely be returning most of the core group that led 2018’s title run. It has already brought back World Series MVP Steve Pearce on a team friendly 1-year deal and restructured/extended Alex Cora’s current deal through 2021. Both moves were no-brainers, and the Sox moved quickly to tie up those loose ends. The Red Sox also took a flyer on 25-year-old reliever Colten Brewer. Beyond that, the only real questions with this roster involve Craig Kimbrel, Nathan Eovaldi, and which of their homegrown core they can lock up long-term.
It’s a change of pace from last year’s eons-long pursuit of JD Martinez. It’s also a far cry from splashy offseasons like 2014 and 2015. I didn’t hear any reports of Dave Dombrowski sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner with Madison Bumgarner like Theo Epstein did with Curt Schilling in 2003. Trying to decide which sub-70 OPS+ catcher to move on isn’t a fun conversation to have on sports talk radio. The minutiae of sussing out a 6th or 7th reliever don’t really move the needle for many fans. There is some intrigue around second base and Dustin Pedroia’s status moving forward. And, while I personally think first base is an area to upgrade, the team seems happy with their Peace/Mitch Moreland platoon.
Winter can be fickle, and Dombrowski has never been shy about making blockbusters happen. Standing pat after a season where nearly everything went right can be risky, too. However, should the Sox choose to mostly shuffle some minor pieces around while keeping most of a championship roster intact, it will be hard to complain. This team doesn’t feel quite as one-hit-wonder-y as 2013, and doesn’t have as many players set to depart as 2004. The best comparison is 2007. That offseason, a strong mix of young, homegrown talent and veteran stars made it easy to roll things over to 2008.
Besides, next offseason looms large. Some key players that are up for extensions in 2019: Moreland, Martinez (player option) Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley become unrestricted free agents the following year. It may be best for Boston to keep its books as clean as possible, with that in mind. That is unless they plan on acquiring a player with the intent to replace one of those guys over the long term.
As is always the case, we’ll have no choice to wait and see what happens. But if push comes to shove, I’m fine if the only offseason addition the Red Sox make is another World Series trophy to their display case.