Boston Red Sox
After making the ALCS last year with such a porous roster, the Red Sox spent over the luxury tax in the offseason and had high expectations in a competitive AL East division.
However, let’s take this “offseason spending” with a grain of salt. Going into spring training, Christian Arroyo was the starting second baseman for the team. Trevor Story was still laying around and the Sox capitalized, but only out of desperation. The Red Sox signed Story to merely be competitive, but not to contend.
Regardless, offense really wasn’t a problem for Boston. Despite losing Kiké Hernandez and Story for most of the season, the Sox were ninth in runs per game (4.52).
What really hurt this team was pitching, and you could really see it coming from a mile away. For the starting rotation, the Sox decided to piece it together with cheap veteran options. This can work if you have a strong top of the rotation, but the Red Sox do not. With an aging Chris Sale on the IL, the Sox had little top of the rotation depth coming into the season with Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta as their top starters. To back that up, they plugged in vets Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and young reliever Garrett Whitlock. Wacha turned out to be Boston’s best starter, but aside from that it was a mess. The rotation finished with a 4.52 ERA (23rd) and saw starts from prospects Josh Winckowski, Bryan Bello, and Connor Seabold. Veteran starter James Paxton, who was signed in the offseason, failed to pitch a single inning for the Sox.
After moving Whitlock to the rotation, the Red Sox bullpen started the season without a true closer. Out of 65 save opportunities, the Red Sox blew a whopping 28. This mainly falls on Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox front office. They went into the season with a bad bullpen and tried to piece it together, failing miserably.
The Sox are now in an incredibly tough spot. Franchise third basemen Rafael Devers still needs a long-term contract, and both JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts are free agents heading into the offseason. The same goes for top starters Michael Wacha and Nathan Eovaldi. The Red Sox have money to spend, but the roster holes are beyond numerous.
The Sox must go all out if they truly want to contend next year. Hopefully they’ve learned a roster with below-average starting pitching and an awful bullpen simply won’t succeed in the AL East.