The Red Sox have a clear need at second base this winter, and as recently noted, newly installed chief baseball officer Craig Breslow indicated to reporters that he feels a trade is likelier than a free-agent signing. Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic adds some more context from Breslow’s media session, noting that he called the “ideal” acquisition a right-handed bat and plus defender.
Second base was a black hole in the Boston lineup last year. Ten different players saw time there — Christian Arroyo, Enmanuel Valdez, Luis Urias and Pablo Reyes primarily — and combined for a .240/.286/.376 slash on the whole. Urias has since been traded to the Mariners. Arroyo was outrighted and became a free agent. Reyes and Valdez remain on the roster, but the former is a career .256/.318/.367 hitter who’s best suited for a utility role, while the latter has all of 149 MLB plate appearances to his name.
Veteran Whit Merrifield headlines the free-agent crop of second basemen, though bounceback candidates like Amed Rosario and Adam Frazier hold some appeal to clubs in search of help at second base as well. The trade market offers far more intriguing possibilities. The Reds have an enviable surplus of infield talent, and 2021 Rookie of the Year Jonathan India has been an oft-rumored candidate to change hands (though Cincinnati president Nick Krall downplayed the possibility recently). The Twins have their own glut of infield talent and are open to offers on veteran Jorge Polanco as they seek to reduce payroll and bolster the pitching staff. McCaffrey suggests that San Diego’s Ha-Seong Kim would be of interest if available, although that would presumably only be the case if the Padres continue to scale back payroll — and the prospect cost to acquire Kim would hardly be insignificant.
As one would expect for a newly hired baseball operations leader who’s trying to turn around a last-place team, Breslow has plenty of balls in the air at the moment. In addition to the pursuits at second base, Boston has also been active in the rotation market. Reports this week indicated they’re among the top suitors for Seth Lugo, and McCaffrey writes that the Sox were interested in Luis Severino before he signed with the Mets. Jon Heyman of the New York Post tweets that the Sox had interest in a reunion with Eduardo Rodriguez but didn’t want to make a commitment with NPB newcomers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga both still in play via free agency. The Sox have interest in both.
Beyond the pitching staff, the Sox remain engaged with Justin Turner about a potential reunion, Breslow confirmed yesterday (via Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe). Turner declined a player option with Boston after hitting .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs in his first year with the team. That was a foregone conclusion, however, as the net $6.7MM value of that option (after factoring in the buyout he received) is well shy of what Turner can command in free agency, even at 39.
Breslow also suggested that he’d like to add a right-handed bat who can handle center field (via Abraham), though he stopped short of calling it a “need.” MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Breslow also implied the Sox could stand pat in the outfield and head into the 2024 season with the current group of Wilyer Abreu, Jarren Duran and Ceddanne Rafaela, though that’s obviously an inexperienced group and a further addition clearly hasn’t been ruled out. Boston was linked to right-handed-hitting outfielders Michael A. Taylor and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this week, though only the former is an option in center field (and a very good one, at that).