The Boston Red Sox have some important decisions to make this winter.
Sure, it’s hard to focus on the offseason already with Boston still celebrating its 2018 World Series triumph, but spring training will be here before you know it and the Red Sox have several players who just became free agents.
MLB Trade Rumors published a piece over the weekend examining the top 50 free agents across Major League Baseball, complete with projected contracts and predicted landing spots for each. A few notable players from the Red Sox’s 2018 club appeared on the list, making for an interesting thought exercise as Boston decides which players it would like to re-sign or pursue on the open market.
Here are the Red Sox’s notable free agents this offseason: Craig Kimbrel, Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Ian Kinsler, Steve Pearce, Drew Pomeranz, Brandon Phillips.
Kimbrel, Eovaldi, Kelly and Pomeranz appeared on MLB Trade Rumors’ top 50 list, with Kinsler receiving an honorable mention. One might view this as a major slight toward Pearce, who just earned World Series MVP honors in Boston’s five-game victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he’s turning 36 and has been a platoon player for most of his MLB career; his success on baseball’s biggest stage was as surprising as it was impressive.
With that in mind, here are MLB Trade Rumors’ predictions for each Red Sox free agent’s landing spot and contract. The players are listed according to their ranking.
5. Craig Kimbrel, RHP: St. Louis Cardinals. Four years, $70 million.
7. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP: Boston Red Sox. Four years, $60 million.
25. Joe Kelly, RHP: Los Angeles Angels. Three years, $27 million.
50. Drew Pomeranz, LHP: Kansas City Royals. One year, $6 million.
Kimbrel, a seven-time All-Star, has long been one of the best closers in baseball. He’s coming off a shaky postseason performance but still should find a robust market thanks to his lengthy track record of dominance. A four-year, $70 million contract would pay the 30-year-old a healthy $17.5 million annually, surpassing Wade Davis’ average annual value record for relievers ($17.33 million). The Red Sox reportedly extended Kimbrel a one-year, $17.9 qualifying offer and will receive draft pick compensation if he declines it and signs elsewhere.
Eovaldi’s stock skyrocketed in the playoffs, where the flame-throwing right-hander arguably was Boston’s most valuable player. There’s substantial risk to signing Eovaldi, who has undergone two Tommy John surgeries, but there’s also significant upside, especially since he’s turning just 29 in February. It’ll be interesting to see how interested the Red Sox are in bringing back the October hero.
Kelly, 30, has been an absolute roller coaster since joining the Red Sox at the 2014 MLB trade deadline, and the 2018 season provided a perfect snapshot of both his ceiling and his floor. He definitely earned himself a few extra bucks with his playoff success.
Pomeranz, who turns 30 this month, had a forgettable 2018 campaign one year after earning an All-Star selection. He dealt with injuries, diminished velocity and poor performance, undoubtedly costing him a ton of money this offseason.