As of Thursday, MLB free agency is officially underway. Unlike other leagues that see massive deals handed out as soon as the clock strikes midnight – or noon, or whatever – baseball’s hot stove is more of a slow burn.
For the Red Sox, most of the attention right now is on internal free agents. The contract situations of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are currently at the forefront of the discourse surrounding the team.
However, just bringing back Bogaerts and Devers alone won’t be enough to dig the Sox all the way out of the last-place basement they found themselves in last season. In addition to retaining their big bats, improving their pitching staff is a must after a 78-84 season.
In 2022, the Red Sox finished the season with a team ERA of 4.53. That ranked 25th in all of Major League Baseball, and 14th of 15 teams in the American League. Those issues aren’t isolated to only the rotation or the bullpen, both were issues at times last year. No. 1 starter Nathan Eovaldi heading to free agency won’t help things either.
Beyond Eovaldi, there are no obvious front-end starters in house. Chris Sale remains an unknown due to his recent durability, and James Paxton falls into the same category coming off Tommy John. After Nick Pivetta, most of the starters are prospect-type arms who are tougher to project.
The bullpen needs more of a complete overhaul. There’s still no clear closer, and the group is short on lefty arms.
Then there are players like Garrett Whitlock and Josh Winckowski, who could be starters or relievers. They’ll certainly be factors, but they can’t simultaneously fill both spots.
How can the Red Sox bolster their pitching staff in free agency this year? Here are some names besides Eovaldi to know…