Need more evidence the Boston Red Sox could cast a wide net this Major League Baseball offseason?
Look no further than Jim Bowden’s rankings of the top 25 free agents, published Friday on The Athletic.
The former MLB general manager included the Red Sox among his “best fits” for 13 (!) players set to hit the open market — a list that features seven pitchers, four shortstops, a catcher and an outfielder, who sat out the entire 2022 season.
Obviously, Bowden doesn’t expect the Red Sox to sign all of these players. Even signing two or three would qualify as a busy offseason that puts a dent in Boston’s wallet. Rather, he’s simply assessing the market and highlighting possible suitors based on earning potential, projected payrolls, team needs, etc. That the Red Sox are mentioned so frequently speaks to both the holes in their current roster and the flexibility with which Boston can operate.
Here are the 13 players (along with Bowden’s top-25 rank):
Carlos Correa, SS (4)
Trea Turner, SS (5)
Xander Bogaerts, SS (6)
Carlos Rodón, LHP (7)
Dansby Swanson, SS (9)
Kodai Senga, RHP (10)
Willson Contreras, C (12)
Nathan Eovaldi, RHP (13)
Chris Bassitt, RHP (14)
Jameson Taillon, RHP (15)
Zach Eflin, RHP (20)
Michael Conforto, OF (21)
Kenley Jansen, RHP (22)
The shortstop class clearly is loaded. And Bowden is working off the assumption Bogaerts will opt out of his contract with Boston and test free agency, a likely scenario after another excellent season from the four-time All-Star.
The Red Sox have expressed their desire to work out a long-term deal with Bogaerts, a homegrown franchise cornerstone, but if the sides can’t reach an agreement, it’s possible Boston shifts its focus toward other options. Hence why Bowden listed the Red Sox among his “best fits” for Bogaerts, Correa, Turner and Swanson — one year after Boston signed longtime shortstop Trevor Story, who moved to second base in 2022.
For what it’s worth, Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander occupy the top three spots on Bowden’s rankings.