Boston Red Sox

Fresh off a monster extension for Rafael Devers, Chaim Bloom and the Boston Red Sox avoided arbitration with five players and added almost $17 million to their 2023 payroll in the process this past weekend.

For the Red Sox, that included new contracts for catcher Reese McGuire, infielder Christian Arroyo, outfielder Alex Verdugo, and pitchers Nick Pivetta and Ryan Brasier.

The signings brought Boston’s estimated payroll for 2023 up to over $163 million, according to Spotrac.

  • Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting an RBI home run in the bottom of the second inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on April 16, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after hitting an RBI home run in the bottom of the second inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on April 16, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

  • The most expensive of the bunch, the 26-year-old Verdugo will check in at $6.3 million for the Sox in 2023.

    The headlining piece of the return in the 2020 Mookie Betts trade, Verdugo is coming off a 2022 season that featured a .280 average and .328 on-base percentage with 11 home runs and 74 RBIs in 152 games played.

    Verdugo’s 74 RBIs were a career-high, and Verdugo also established career-best marks in hits (166) and doubles (39), but it was clear that the Sox felt there’s more to give moving forward.

    “Yeah, [Verdugo] hit for average, but he can be a lot better baserunning, defensively,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora, citing Verdugo as a player who needs to make a big leap in 2023, said (via Masslive) following the end of the season. “He’s getting to that area in his career that’s, ‘Who is he gonna be?’ We talked about this with (Andrew Benintendi) a few years ago, right? You see the player he has become. (Benintendi) has become a better defender, a good hitter.

    “I think Verdugo has the chance to hit for power, hit for average, but he can impact the game running the bases and playing defense.”

  • A veteran of 509 MLB games between Los Angeles and Boston, the lefty-swinging and throwing Verdugo is a career .286 hitter with 44 home runs and 201 RBIs.

    The Red Sox are going to want to find out a whole lot more about Verdugo in 2023, really, as he’s staring down his third and final year of arbitration in 2024 and is slated to be a free agent ahead of the 2025 season.

  • May 18, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (37) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    May 18, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (37) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Fenway Park. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Behind Verdugo, starter Nick Pivetta checked in as the second-most expensive signing among the arbitration-eligible group, with the Canadian-born righty signed to a $5.35 million contract for 2023.

    On the bump for a career-high 33 starts, the 29-year-old Pivetta won 10 games for the first time in his MLB career, and his 179.2 innings were a single-season career high.

    One issue for Pivetta in 2022: The American League East. In 16 starts against the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, and Yankees in 2022, Pivetta went a disastrous 1-8, and surrendered 59 runs in 79 innings, giving him an ugly 6.72 ERA in divisional play. Pivetta was especially bad against New York, with an 0-2 record and 10 home runs and 25 runs allowed in just 23.2 innings of work, and with the Bombers hitting .323 against him.

    But without a high-end starter added to the rotation, it seems likely that the Red Sox will once again ask Pivetta to be a top-three arm in their rotation.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 26: Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox is relieved during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on August 26, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 26: Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox is relieved during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on August 26, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • In the bullpen, and in what feels like a somewhat shocking development, the Red Sox and reliever Ryan Brasier came to terms on a deal that will pay him $2 million in 2023. The deal is a $600,000 raise from his 2021 salary ($1.4 million), and is a $750,000 raise from what Brasier made in 2021.

    All while the 35-year-old Brasier bordered on unplayable in 2022.

    Summoned out of the pen for 68 appearances last year, Brasier allowed 40 earned runs and 68 hits in 62.1 innings of work, and posted career-worsts in ERA (5.78) and batting average against (.280). Brasier also surrendered nine home runs, which tied a career-worst previously established in 2019.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 11: Christian Arroyo #39 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Philadelphia Phillies during the eighth inning at Fenway Park on July 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JULY 11: Christian Arroyo #39 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Philadelphia Phillies during the eighth inning at Fenway Park on July 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Another player checking in at $2 million for the 2023 Red Sox will be infielder Christian Arroyo.

    A versatile option for Cora and the Red Sox, Arroyo’s 2022 included career-highs in games (87), average (.286), hits (80), home runs (six), RBIs (36), doubles (16), and runs (32).

    Given the uncertainty of middle infielder Trevor Story following the bummer of an update in regards to his significant elbow injury and with the Sox still not having made a move to address that situation, the Red Sox could very well ask Arroyo to be an everyday player for their club in 2023.

    Arroyo was most commonly used as a second baseman last year, with 310 innings of work at the position.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 24: Reese McGuire #3 of the Boston Red Sox throws during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on August 24, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 24: Reese McGuire #3 of the Boston Red Sox throws during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on August 24, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • The most affordable signing of the group of five came with the signing of catcher Reese McGuire, who will make just over $1 million for the Red Sox next year, at $1.225 million to be exact.

    Acquired from the White Sox ahead of the 2022 trade deadline, McGuire looked to be a solid fit for the club, with a .337 average with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 36 appearances with the Red Sox. He was actually probably one of the only bright spots in a finish that was straight-up miserable, in fact.

    The Red Sox are currently looking likely to roll with a catching platoon that features McGuire as their primary catcher, and with Connor Wong behind McGuire on the depth chart.