Boston Red Sox

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 3: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox smiles with teammates in the dugout during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on October 3, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

  • Ever before he was named a finalist for this year’s American League Gold Glove Award at shortstop, Xander Bogaerts should have been on your mind. The Red Sox said weeks ago that Bogaerts would be their No. 1 priority entering this offseason, if for no other reason than the fact that the baseball calendar demanded it. Bogaerts is still under contract with the team, after all, and he cannot opt out of his current contract until after the World Series.

    So this begs the question:

    What Gives With The Face Of The Red Sox Franchise?

    BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 5: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap to the crowd after he is removed from the game the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on October 5, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 5: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap to the crowd after he is removed from the game the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on October 5, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    That noise you hear? It’s pretty self-explanatory.

    Tick, tick, tick …

    At most, we are now slightly more than two weeks from the end of the World Series, which simultaneously signifies the start of the 2023 Major League Baseball calendar. As soon as the World Series concludes – Game 7 would be on Saturday, November 5 – players will start declaring for free agency and Bogaerts can opt out of the remaining three years and $60 million on his contract. Predicting what happens is still anybody’s guess, but this much we know: the large majority of players who declare for free agency end up signing with another team. The overwhelming odds will be with Bogaerts going bye-bye.

    So what’s the deal? Have the sides made any progress at all? Or is this thing already over?

    We said this before and we’ll say it again: if the Red Sox re-sign Bogaerts but are no better off in 2023 than they were in 2022, that doesn’t serve anyone, including the player. Bogaerts’ return only means something if it’s part of a big, successful offseason that puts the Sox back into playoff and – important detail here – championship contention. The point is that they (and you) would actually be better off if Bogaerts departing somehow helps them become a better team. Still, the fact that we’ve heard almost nothing about Bogaerts certainly heightens the anxiety because, symbolically, he looks and feels like Step One of the Red Sox’ plan. And neither he nor they appear to have moved closer to a resolution.

  • Boy, Did The Red Sox Whiff On Kyle Schwarber Or What?

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 18: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a home run during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres in game one of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 18, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

    Look, this is obviously an old story – only it isn’t. In terms of makeup, Schwarber was a perfect fit for the Red Sox last season and had a profound impact on their lineup. Given what the Red Sox trotted out at first base for much of the season, Schwarber would have solved a lot of the club’s problem’s in the short term and the long. He ended up signing a four-year, $79 million contract with the Phillies – an average of $19.75 million per season – which is more than reasonable for someone who led the National League this season with 46 home runs.

    If Schwarber were here now, he’d have been an easy, simple and good replacement for J.D. Martinez as the designated hitter. And a Red Sox team that desperately needs power would already have had a big answer for what team officials have admitted is a power void.

    So, can the Sox do better than Schwarber on this year’s market? We shall see. And make no mistake, this is not a second-guess. Schwarber made sense last year for all of these same reasons. With a little foresight, the Red Sox could have been in a better position than they are now without having to commit to kind of massive contract they have trepidation over. They still would have been able to call up Tristan Casas and they might have even been able to move Martinez at the trading deadline.

  • Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of A Closer

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in game four of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 15: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in game four of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Yes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But given the impact Josh Hader has had on the San Diego Padres, let’s not be so pigheaded as to suggest that all closers are overrated and/or overvalued. Hader had a horrible regular season (especially by his standards) and looked like a smart dump before the trading deadline by the Milwaukee Brewers, who sent him to San Diego. But this postseason, Hader has allowed just one hit and one walk while collecting four saves and 10 strikeouts in five postseason appearances covering 5.1 innings.

    So how does this affect the Red Sox?

    Well that should be obvious.

    This year, the Red Sox bullpen was a disaster, which has led to the stage where they clearly need an overhaul. Creatively building bullpens has become all the rage in baseball, largely thanks to economic limitations that have required teams like the Tampa Bay Rays to think outside the box. And that’s fine. Thinking outside the lines is always encouraged. But let’s not eliminate the potential solutions inside the box, either, particularly for teams that can afford to pay a closer. The Red Sox are one of those. If there is a true stud reliever who is available to you, don’t shy away just because he makes some money. That would be foolish. The goal is to get the best players – however that may be.