Wait, who are these guys?
Red Sox fans might find themselves contemplating that question early in 2023, as Boston’s roster underwent a significant overhaul this Major League Baseball offseason.
Several franchise stalwarts — including Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Barnes — departed in recent months, with Boston coming off an underwhelming 2022, and a host of fresh faces will look to return the Red Sox to playoff contention in the upcoming campaign.
So, who exactly did the Red Sox add, either via free agency or trade? Let’s break down the most notable newcomers, with spring training about to begin, in case you weren’t paying close attention.
Masataka Yoshida, OF (free agency)
The Red Sox’s biggest splash of free agency. Yoshida signed a five-year contract reportedly worth $90 million, with the total investment reaching nine figures when you factor in the posting fee Boston was required to pay the 29-year-old’s Japanese team. There’s obviously some inherent uncertainty, with Yoshida having never played in the majors, but he’s considered an excellent hitter who could bat atop Boston’s lineup this season. He’s a huge part of the Red Sox’s present and future.
Justin Turner, DH/CI (free agency)
Turner will replace Martinez as the Red Sox’s designated hitter in 2023. While the longtime Dodgers third baseman is no spring chicken, entering his age-38 season, he’s produced enough over the last couple of years to suggest he still has gas in the tank. Turner could be a solid right-handed replacement for Martinez, especially when you bake in his leadership and positive clubhouse presence. His deal reportedly will pay him an $8.3 million salary in 2023 and includes a $13.4 million player option for 2024.
Adam Duvall, OF (free agency)
Duvall, an All-Star in 2016 and a Gold Glove Award winner in 2021, offers right-handed power and the ability to play all three outfield spots. His defensive versatility on the grass will be of the utmost importance this season as the Red Sox attempt to overcome Bogaerts’ free agency exit and Trevor Story’s elbow injury, two developments that seemingly will force Kiké Hernández to the infield. There are concerns, like Duvall’s recent injury history and diminished batted-ball data, but he’s a low-risk addition on a one-year deal that’ll reportedly pay him $7 million. Duvall likely will start the season in center field, flanked by Yoshida in left field and Alex Verdugo in right field.
Adalberto Mondesi, SS (trade)
The Red Sox needed middle-infield help after Bogaerts, their longtime shortstop, signed with the San Diego Padres in free agency. Losing Story to an elbow injury, perhaps for the bulk of 2023, only exacerbated the problem. Mondesi won’t fix all that ails the Red Sox, especially since he’s battled both injuries and inconsistency since entering the league with the Kansas City Royals in 2016. But the 27-year-old switch-hitter has a dynamic skill set, anchored by premium defense and elite sprint speed. He’s a potential game-changing wild card for the Red Sox, who shipped left-handed reliever Josh Taylor to KC as part of the trade.
Other notable newcomers: C Jorge Alfaro (free agency), OF Raimel Tapia (free agency), OF Greg Allen (free agency), OF Narciso Crook (free agency), IF/OF Niko Goodrum (free agency)
Alfaro absolutely could factor into the Red Sox’s big league catching plans, as neither Reese McGuire nor Connor Wong has experience as a proven MLB starter behind the dish. … Tapia gives the Red Sox veteran outfield depth, having spent six seasons with the Colorado Rockies and one with the Toronto Blue Jays. … Allen and Crook are outfield options, too, and Goodrum, a switch-hitter with good speed, is a name to watch thanks in large to his defensive versatility.
Corey Kluber, RHP (free agency)
Kluber isn’t the same ace who won two American League Cy Young Awards with Cleveland while finishing third on two other occasions from 2014 to 2018. He’s turning 37, with diminished velocity and stuff, and probably won’t approach 200 innings given his extensive injury history. But Kluber was mostly good over the last two seasons, with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, and will slot into a Red Sox rotation that lost Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill this offseason.
Kenley Jansen, RHP (free agency)
The Red Sox finally have a proven closer again, eliminating some of the guesswork over who will pitch the ninth inning for Boston. Jansen racked up a National League-leading 41 saves with the Atlanta Braves in 2022, after spending his previous 12 seasons with the Dodgers. He’s clearly in the back half of his career, entering his age-35 campaign, but he earned three All-Star selections from 2016 to 2018 and should be a stabilizing force in Boston’s revamped bullpen. His deal reportedly is worth $32 million over two years.
Chris Martin, RHP (free agency)
Martin is another impact addition to the Red Sox’s new-look relief corps. He, too, will be tasked with steadying the later innings, blending pinpoint control with an ability to miss bats. The 36-year-old posted a 3.05 ERA with a 0.982 WHIP and a 2.18 FIP in 60 appearances (56 innings) split between the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs last season, with his finest work coming down the stretch for Los Angeles. He reportedly is set to earn $17.5 million over the next two years.
Joely Rodríguez, LHP (free agency)
Rodríguez isn’t a high-profile acquisition, having bounced around with the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Yankees and New York Mets over his MLB career. But he’s relatively cheap, reportedly earning a $1.5 million base salary in 2023 with a $4.25 million club option for 2024, and has excellent underlying metrics that portend better overall results moving forward. The 31-year-old also adds balance to Boston’s ‘pen as a southpaw.
Richard Bleier, LHP (trade)
Bleier is another left-hander the Red Sox added to their mix, flipping Barnes to the Miami Marlins after designating the righty for assignment. The 35-year-old isn’t overpowering, relying on weak contact rather than prolific strikeout numbers, but he could be a nice piece of Boston’s collective puzzle.
Other notable newcomers: RHP Wyatt Mills (trade), RHP Jake Faria (free agency), LHP Ryan Sherriff (free agency), LHP Matt Dermody (free agency)
All of these players could factor into the Red Sox’s bullpen plans, to start the season or down the road, with spring training potentially telling a lot about their viability for such roles.
Other roster moves
— LHP James Paxton exercises player option for 2023
It’s hard to pin any sort of expectations on Paxton, a 34-year-old who has totaled just six major league appearances (21 2/3 innings) since 2019. He needs to stay healthy, above all. But there was a point when Paxton was a solid starter, with the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees, and Boston would be thrilled if he’s able to provide meaningful innings in its rotation this season.
— 3B Rafael Devers signs 10-year contract extension
The Red Sox avoided a huge distraction by locking up their best player for the foreseeable future. Had they not, Boston would’ve faced questions all season about whether he would go the way of Bogaerts and sign with a new franchise in free agency next winter.