This afternoon, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, GM Brian O’Halloran, president Sam Kennedy, and manager Alex Cora spoke with the media (including Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Jen McCaffrey of the Athletic) to put a wrap on the 2022 season and provide clarity for the team’s offseason moves.
The quartet made it clear that Xander Bogaerts is a top priority, with Bloom stating that the Red Sox are “going to work really hard” at creating a deal with the long-term shortstop. Bloom continued, adding that he hopes that the Red Sox can get a deal done before the Bogaerts opts out and that the Bogaerts deal is “something that we can work on right away.”
Bogaerts had previously signed a six-year, $120MM extension in 2019 with an opt out after the 2022 season. The star shortstop has not officially stated whether he will exercise the opt out, but he’s a lock to do so and earn far more on the open market. Bogaerts said yesterday he and the team have not had any recent extension talks.
Bogaerts has been the Red Sox’s longest-tenured player, having made his debut as a 20-year-old in August 2013 and winning two World Series with the club. Since his debut, the recently turned 30-year-old has continued to develop and post strong results, slashing .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs and 38 doubles in the 2022 season. Over the past five seasons, Bogaerts has posted a .301/.373/.508 slash line for a strong .880 OPS with 105 home runs, earning three All-Star berths and MVP consideration in the previous four seasons, finishing in fifth during the 2019 season.
If Bogaerts leaves the team, the Red Sox have options internally. Trevor Story, signed to a six-year, $140MM contract during the 2021 offseason, has considerable experience at short. However, Story has expressed a preference to remain at second and retain Bogaerts at short. utility men Kike Hernandez and Christian Arroyo both have experience at shortstop, but neither produces an offensive output comparable to Bogaerts.
Additionally, Red Sox’s top prospect Marcelo Mayer, ranked as the seventh-best prospect by MLB.com, just finished his first full minor league season, posting a strong .280/.399/.489 line across Low-A and High-A. MLB.com currently projects the 19-year-old to make his debut during the 2024 season. However, Bloom said that prospects who are years away from the Majors will not impact the Red Sox’s approach to their 2023 team.
Transitioning to Rafael Deversthe slugger said on Wednesday that he’d be open to discussing a long-term deal this offseason (via Rob Bradford of WEEI). The Red Sox and Devers reportedly weren’t close during their Spring Training negotiations, but Bloom reiterated today “we would like to” explore a long-term deal with Devers, per Speier.
Devers is headed into his final season of arbitration eligibility, as Mookie Betts was before his blockbuster trade to the Dodgers. Bloom dismissed the possibility of trading Devers, saying that “isn’t on our radar” and that everything the team has done (farm system and payroll-wise) was conducted so that the team “is never in that position [of trading a player like Betts] again.” Bloom added that while it was always possible he’d receive a trade offer that was “stupid to walk away from,” Devers “is a guy that we want to build around.”
Unlike Bogaerts, the Red Sox have fewer internal options to replace Devers at the hot corner. Arroyo and Hernandez are capable of playing there, but, like is the case with shortstop, neither of them provides the offensive output that Devers brings to the team. Bobby Dalbec could be a contender for third base. However, the righty has yet to consistently produce at the major league level, slashing .232/.298/.456, buoyed by a strong .263/.359/.600 in his late 2020 debut season. Throw Downs and Ryan Fitzgerald are both Triple-A candidates that could see some time if needed, but both will likely continue their development in Triple-A.
Similar to Meyer, ninth-best prospect Blaze Jordan just finished his first full minor league season. Across Low-A and High-A, the 19-year-old posted a combined .289/.363/.445 line. Jordan is also projected to make his debut during the 2024 season, which may be sped up to align with a Devers departure.
Moving to the other side of the infield, Bloom touched on the arrivals of Eric Hosmer and Triston Casas. “I don’t know yet,” he admitted when asked if there was room on the roster for two left-handed first basemen, per Christopher Smith of Mass Live. “Obviously, when we got Hoz, we were focused on what he could bring to us right now and not wanting to rush Triston. I think after that, Triston showed us in Triple-A, coming back off that injury once he got settled in, really the best we’ve seen from him or at least I’ve seen since I’ve been here. … It’s something we’re going to have to look at.”
Hosmer was acquired at the trade deadline and posted a weak .244/.320/.331 line with the Red Sox in 45 at-bats. He arrived with three years remaining on his eight-year, $144MM contract that he signed in 2018 with the Padres, but San Diego is paying down all but the league minimum salary. Hosmer certainly won’t opt of the remaining $39MM on his deal, but Boston could move from the veteran at virtually no financial cost if they wanted to turn to Casas full time.
Casas is Boston’s second-best prospect, after Mayer, and is ranked as the No. 25 prospect by MLB.com. The slugger made his debut in early September and finished the season going 15-for-76 (.197) with 23 strikeouts. However, he had a strong 20% walk rate, a .358 on-base percentage, and sent five balls over the fence. Bloom stated that the Red Sox were happy with how Casas “progressed the last couple months of the season,” noting that “he was a tough at-bat every single time,” and that the team is “excited” to see how he learns from his brief experience in the Show.
Bloom also noted that the Red Sox “fully expect” they’ll look at the possibility of adding to their catching group externally, per Speier. He suggested the Red Sox see Reese McGuire and Connor Wong as having “raised the floor,” but left open the possibility of an impact addition. Willson Contreras is the clear top free agent available at the position, while deadline trade target Sean Murphy could again be made available by the A’s. McGuire has had a strong start to his Red Sox tenure, slashing a strong .337/.377/.500 for a .877 OPS with three homers in 98 at-bats. However, these high numbers are inflated by an astounding .411 BABIP. Wong has been less productive, posting a .188/.273/.315 line, with a high 28.6% strikeout rate.
Meanwhile, Cora announced that the Red Sox hope to bring back their entire coaching staff for the next season, per Chris Cotillo of Mass Live. However, it’s possible some members of the staff could get a chance to interview for managerial positions this winter. Bench coach Will Venablein particular, has been a frequent candidate for managerial jobs in past offseasons.