The 2022 Major League Baseball season has been a disappointment for the Boston Red Sox.
That’s the bad news for Boston. The good news? The Red Sox still have several talented players under contract for 2023, as well as the resources to make a splash this offseason, with free agency being one possible avenue for bolstering the roster.
So, who could the Red Sox target on the open market?
The club has a few internal decisions to make, with Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill able to become free agents, potentially leaving Boston with multiple holes to fill in the lineup and in the starting rotation. And it’ll be interesting to see how Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom navigates those waters, especially with Rafael Devers slated to hit free agency next offseason.
But this winter’s free agency class is intriguing, even if the leaguewide spending ultimately doesn’t match last offseason’s bonanza. There’s a little something for everyone, including the Red Sox, who might need to get creative to ensure an immediate return to contention.
Alas, here are six high-profile free agents the Red Sox theoretically could pursue, keeping in mind this is a way-too-early outlook and that we’re simply highlighting a few of the biggest names available for conversation’s sake.
Aaron Judge, OF
Has anyone ever had a better contract year than Judge, the frontrunner for American League MVP amid an historic season with the New York Yankees? Judge bet on himself back in April when he rejected a seven-year, $213.5 million contract offer from the Bronx Bombers, and now he’s on the cusp of setting the AL’s single-season home run record while vying for a Triple Crown. There might be questions about Judge’s durability — admittedly, he’s answered most of those the past two seasons — but few players, if any, have a higher ceiling. Judge will turn 31 next April. A payday in excess of $300 million seems inevitable.
Trea Turner, SS
Essentially, the Red Sox have three shortstop options: Re-sign Xander Bogaerts, find a replacement or move Trevor Story to the other side of the bag while installing a new second baseman. The first option might be preferable, with Bogaerts, a four-time All-Star, being such a perfect fit with Boston throughout his productive MLB career. But signing Turner is an eye-opening alternative. The Los Angeles Dodgers star (formerly of the Washington Nationals) is an excellent hitter who won the National League batting title in 2021, and his blazing speed might be even more valuable with MLB changing its rules to invite more stolen bases. Turner will turn 30 next June.
Jacob deGrom, SP
Simply put, deGrom is one of the best pitchers of this generation. He’s been a dominant force whenever he’s been healthy. The problem, of course, is he’s battled injuries that have limited his availability in recent years, and he’ll be entering his age-35 season in 2023. Whichever team signs deGrom — perhaps on an exorbitant short-term deal that exceeds the three-year, $130 million contract his teammate Max Scherzer signed with the New York Mets last offseason — will absorb some risk along with his ridiculous (unmatched?) upside.
Carlos Rodón, SP
Let’s try this again. Durability concerns surrounded Rodón in his trip to free agency last offseason, leading to a two-year, $44 million contract with the San Francisco Giants that includes an opt-out after this season (provided he reached 110 innings). The hard-throwing left-hander has emphatically put those concerns to bed, positioning himself for the lucrative long-term deal that eluded him last winter. Rodón, who will turn 30 in December, has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season and is firmly in his prime.
Edwin Díaz, RP
Díaz has been MLB’s best reliever in 2022, posting goofy numbers as the Mets’ closer after an up-and-down first season in Queens. There’s a very real chance the flame-throwing strikeout artist becomes the first reliever ever to land a nine-figure contract. He’ll turn 29 before next season and immediately would solidify the back end of any bullpen.
Willson Contreras, C
It was rather stunning the Cubs didn’t trade Contreras before the deadline, but he’ll nevertheless enter free agency as the top catcher available. The three-time All-Star is one of the league’s best offensive backstops — a clear threat to hit 20-plus home runs each season — and that prowess in the batter’s box should be enough to generate serious interest, despite any concerns about his defensive impact. Contreras will turn 31 next May.