9:34PM: Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe has some updates on the pitching search, citing right-hander Tommy Kahnle as a target for the Red Sox bullpen. The Sox haven’t made much progress in recent talks with Eovaldi, and while the Red Sox are known to have interest in Kodai Senga, the Japanese star hasn’t yet visited Boston while making the rounds to visit other teams.
On the hitting front, Abreu was offered a three-year deal “in the low- to mid-$40MM range,” well below the three years and $59.5MM Abreu received from Houston.
6:47PM: Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke with the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier (Twitter thread) and other reporters today at the Winter Meetings, outlining his team’s extensive plans for the rest of the offseason. Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez represent Boston’s most notable additions thus far, and Bloom said the Sox could yet add at least two more relievers to augment the bullpen.
All in all, Bloom said the team wanted to add “seven, eight, nine” players to “build the team we want to have.” This list includes three or four position players, as well as at least one starting pitcher who can bring “upside, leadership, and consistency” to the rotation, as well as innings.
On paper, it looks like the Red Sox are aiming for a repeat of their first three offseasons under Bloom’s leadership, which saw the club made a wide array of moves big and small to shuffle up the roster. This semi-overhaul added both everyday players and more complementary parts to the roster, with a general focus in acquiring controllable players and veterans on shorter-term contracts — with the major exception of Trevor Story, and his six-year, $140MM pact from last March.
Bloom’s tactics have drawn a mixed reaction at best from Red Sox Nation, as the team’s last three seasons have consisted of one trip to the ALCS (in 2021) and two last-place finishes (2020 and 2022) in the AL East. Several of Bloom’s less-heralded moves have panned out, but several have also not borne fruit, and Boston’s relative lack of spending on big-ticket players has also drawn criticism given the team’s traditional large-market ways. The Red Sox have remained at least a top-10 payroll team over Bloom’s three seasons and even exceeded the luxury tax line last year, though many of the team’s biggest expenditures were signed before Bloom joined the organization.
The Red Sox have quite a bit of money coming off the books this winter, of course, with Xander Bogaerts being the club’s most prominent free agent. Reports from the weekend indicated that the Sox weren’t one of the primary members of Bogaerts’ market, and that the Red Sox had yet to make “a competitive offer” to the shortstop.
Bloom pushed back against that speculation today, saying “have certainly made offers to him, we’ve been engaged, and we’ll stay engaged.” Bogaerts is still a chief priority for the Red Sox, though Bloom expected the shortstop to check out all of his options in his first trip to free agency.
Re-signing Bogaerts and solidifying the shortstop position for years to come would naturally have a big impacton Boston’s plans to remake its position-player mix. Bloom noted that Story or Enrique Hernandez could potentially take over at shortstop if Bogaerts departed, but if he stayed, Story would likely remain at second base and Hernandez could bounce around the diamond, perhaps primarily staying in center field.
Story and Hernandez figure to play everyday roles somewhere, and Rafael Devers has third base covered and Alex Verdugo will get regular work at one or both of the corner outfield spots. However, there’s quite of bit of flux elsewhere around the diamond and quite a bit more opportunity to add new faces, depending on how much playing time the Red Sox want to give to such younger players as Triston Casas, Jarren Duran, or Jeter Downs. For instance, the Sox technically have plenty of first base/DH candidates in Casas, Bobby Dalbec, and Eric Hosmer, but the team still made a big push to sign Jose Abreu before Abreu decided to join the Astros.
Pursuing Abreu would seem to indicate a greater willingness to spend on the front office’s part. A very big contract will obviously be necessary to re-sign Bogaerts, and bringing Nathan Eovaldi back will likely also require a healthy multi-year commitment. Bloom said that incumbent free agents Eovaldi and Michael Wacha were both still possibilities as the team explores the pitching market.