Let’s assume re-signing Xander Bogaerts really is the Boston Red Sox’s top priority this offseason.
Actions ultimately speak louder than words, of course, but Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, as well as team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, on multiple occasions expressed interest in keeping the All-Star shortstop in Boston for the foreseeable future.
Who then, besides Bogaerts, should be the Red Sox’s preferred free agent target?
There are several top-tier players available on the open market this winter, starting with reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge and a trio of big-name shortstops (Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson) in addition to Bogaerts. And even though longtime New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom signed a huge five-year contract with the Texas Rangers last week, the pitching pool still features Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodón, among others.
The Major League Baseball winter meetings kicked off Sunday in San Diego, which means this week could see an influx of deals after an otherwise slow start to the offseason. We asked members of the NESN Digital staff the aforementioned question — who, other than Bogaerts, should Boston target? — and the responses are below for your leisurely consumption.
Mike Cole: Carlos Rodón, LHP
The question is very specific in that it says who should be the Red Sox?s top target, and I truly believe starting pitching is the biggest need for Boston. Rodón eased some concerns about his durability last season, logging a career-high 178 innings while averaging an MLB-best 12 strikeouts per nine innings.
Ricky Doyle: Carlos Correa, SS
I agree with everything Mike just said about Rodón. I was high on the left-hander last offseason, and I’m absolutely willing to double down this offseason, with the Red Sox still in need of front-end starting pitching. But, to avoid overlap and to spice up this exercise, I’ll roll with Correa. He’s the best fit for Boston among the three high-profile Bogaerts alternatives, thanks to his age, résumé on the big stage and batted-ball data/analytic approach that portend solid results for the duration of his next (long-term?) contract.
Scott Edwards: Chris Bassitt, RHP
It’s hard to not love a guy like Bassitt. The 33-year-old has become one of the best middle-of-the-rotation starters in baseball and feels like the perfect guy to bulk up the Red Sox’s pitching staff that’s potentially in need of replacing Michael Wacha, Rich Hill and Nathan Eovaldi. Bassitt finished with a 3.42 ERA with the Mets last season, which is impressive seeing as he sometimes had to really serve as their ace with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer dealing with injuries. Bassitt could be similar to Rick Porcello, who obviously had plenty of success with Boston and in Fenway Park. This is a guy to go get for a few seasons.
Adam London: Carlos Rodón, LHP
Given the uncertainty surrounding converted reliever Garrett Whitlock, sophomore Brayan Bello and the oft-injured Chris Sale, it would be wise for the Red Sox to add to their rotation this offseason. Jacob deGrom was too grand of an investment and Justin Verlander turns 40 in February. Rodón, an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, still is in his prime and will cost less than both of those aces.
Jason Ounpraseuth: Kodai Senga, RHP
The Red Sox need more depth in their starting pitching staff. Senga likely won’t be a bargain, but he is more attainable than a Verlander-type free agent on the market. The Japanese ace wants to play in a big market, and Boston fits that billing nicely.
Keagan Stiefel: Cody Bellinger, OF
The Red Sox have a legitimate need for a right fielder. Heading into the season with Rob Refsnyder and Jarren Duran as the top options feels like a recipe for disaster, so I like the idea of inking Bellinger to a short-term deal to prove his worth moving forward. Let Chaim Bloom do what Chaim Bloom does.
Ben Watanabe: TBD
I just want the Red Sox to sign some player of consequence. If their offseason acquisitions are headlined by, say, Franmil Reyes, it will be tough to get energized for next season’s outlook.
Lauren Willand: Trey Mancini, 1B/OF
He did struggle during his time with the Astros, but someone who can play both first base and the outfield should be of interest to the Red Sox. Between his defensive flexibility and his slash line of .338/.401/.563/.964 at Fenway Park in 39 games, Mancini could be an attractive option for Boston.