We head to Boston next as we continue our season preview coverage. The Red Sox have been sliding backwards as they’ve punted on trying to win. With Mookie leaving last season and Benintendi gone this year, the Sox look a whole lot different; it might just work, though.
Key Additions: Hunter Renfroe, Adam Ottavino, Kiké Hernández, Garrett Richards, Franchy Cordero, Marwin González,
Key Subtractions: Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia
The things that interest me about what the Red Sox did this offseason was their focus to bring in guys who can play all over the field. Kiké and Marwin have both been serviceable utility players over the course of their careers. Bringing in these two should really help solidify the club as they’re both bound to play 120+ games while playing nearly anywhere. The veteran presence both Hernández and González bring should help right the ship in Boston. The team also signed former Texas Ranger property Danny Santana to a Minor League deal; he can do a lot of the same things Kiké and Marwin do defensively.
The team’s other additions are interesting. Ottavino and Renfroe both played in the same division as the Red Sox last year and there are some fans who frown on inter-divisional transactions. Boston may have targeted these two due to what they saw from them when they played for their former employers. Ottavino was far from good as he had an ERA around six while Renfroe was pretty bad across the board. Adam has had a few seasons where he’s looked like one of the better bullpen arms in the league. Hunter is an exceptional power hitter who also bring solid defense to the table. If he gets back to slugging .500 like he had prior to 2020 then he’ll be a solid option for Boston. Both could be considered buy-low options with potential to bounce back in a major way.
A major reason for optimism for the Red Sox in 2021 are the players they’ll be getting back from injury. The team’s two best pitchers (Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez) both missed all of 2020 and are set to return this season. Rodriguez dealt with Covid-19 related health issues and was unable to see the mound while Sale has been recovering from Tommy John surgery. Having these two back should help this team be much better. Realistically, if the Red Sox had done nothing this offseason and patiently waited for these two to come back they still would look much better than last season. Hoping they both come back ready to go isn’t a very good strategy, but it might’ve worked out.
How the Red Sox young players fare will be something I will be watching pretty closely this season. Boston is in the middle of a reboot and they need to have some of the young pieces they’ve acquired recently contribute soon. Bobby Dalbec made his debut in 2020 and looked pretty solid. His 39 strikeouts in 23 games was atrocious, but everything else looked good. Tanner Houck was also very impressive in his first 17 innings of work and looks to build upon that in 2021. Three of the team’s top prospects (Bryan Mata, Jeter Downs, and Jarren Duran) could all make their debut this year for Boston which would be interesting. With the faces of the franchise leaving, someone needs to step in. The team has a pretty strong track record of having guys play well when initially called up so all those guys will be on my watchlist when they get the call. A shot of youth may be what this team needs to take a step forward.
The Red Sox were bottom feeders in 2020 but they should bounce back this time around. I don’t expect them to be tops in the division, but they’ll be more competitive and will look to maybe sneak into the postseason with a little luck.