Hot Stove: What’s Next for Boston Red Sox?


The Boston Red Sox have been mighty busy so far this offseason, as expected after such a dreadful 2014 campaign.

As the season drew to a close, the Red Sox had two major areas of concern to address in free agency; starting pitching and third base. One of those areas has been dealt with today, with the signing of three-time World Series Champion third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The Sox beat out his former club to seal the deal, as well as a Padres club who reportedly offered more money. But, Boston seemed to be the frontrunners from the get-go.

Oct 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval hits a double against the Kansas City Royals in the 8th inning during game seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

With the acquisition of Sandoval, the hot corner in Boston has seen a major upgrade. Last season, Red Sox third basemen posted the worst batting average of any starting third basemen in the league, and it became obvious a move needed to be made. And Sandoval, being a career .294 hitter (.344 in the Postseason), proves to be a fantastic fit.

The other deal inked by the Sox came in the form of a former prospect; shortstop Hanley Ramirez. This move, although not as expected as the Sandoval signing, could prove to be beneficial. But, with a much better defensive option in Xander Bogaerts, what exactly will the Sox do with him?

Sep 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (13) scores on a double hit by teammate

Carl Crawford

(not pictured) in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Now, I’ll be the first to say, trading Bogaerts and slotting Ramirez at shortstop would just prove that Cherington is being trigger happy with this whole rebuilding process. Spending $88 million to replace your best young talent for a worse glove and a few more hits wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. Instead, the team will have to look elsewhere on (or outside) the diamond to play Ramirez.

A corner outfield spot would be the ideal location. Yes, I know the Sox have quite the logjam in the outfield right now, but I’m much more willing to give up one or two of those pieces if it means keeping Bogaerts.

Here’s how I see the 2015 season shaping out, in regards to the diamond:

  • C: Vazquez
  • 1B: Napoli
  • 2B: Pedroia
  • 3B: Sandoval
  • SS: Bogaerts
  • LF: Ramirez (Not Manny this time)
  • CF: Castillo
  • RF: Betts / Bradley Jr.
  • DH: Ortiz

You may notice a major piece missing from (the second half of) last season. In moving Ramirez to the outfield, Yoenis Cespedes would prove to be the most intriguing trade bait to deal with the starting pitching issue. Cespedes still has a year remaining on his contract, but in an overcrowded outfield and a right-handed heavy lineup, he appears to be the best option at this point.

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Looking at the starting pitchers possibly being shopped this winter, one that stands out to me is Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. The 28-year old has posted a career 3.24 ERA in six Major League seasons; all with Washington. With that, Zimmermann could slot very well near the top of the Sox rotation.

Oct 4, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) pitches in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants in game two of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit:

Brad Mills


From there, the rest of the rotation could be solved in free agency; in particular, our old friend Jon Lester. Considering there hasn’t been any excessive overspending in regard to the two signings so far, the Sox should still be very much in the mix for Lester. Call me an optimist, but I still see the Sox as the favorites to sign Lester, especially considering the next two biggest pursuers, the Braves and Cubs, don’t seem so sure they have much of a chance.

That being said, here’s the possible 2015 rotation:

  1. Lester
  2. Zimmermann
  3. Buchholz
  4. Kelly
  5. Ranaudo

This rotation could have a very similar appearance to the Sox rotations of 6-7 years ago. Those days saw, in a sense, a two ace rotation with Beckett and Lester. This time, Lester would essentially slot into Beckett’s role of the true starter, with Zimmermann as a more-than-capable option for the next game. From there, a few questions still arise.

Buchholz has been, safe to say, inconsistent since his injury problems at the end of the 2013 campaign. But, he showed signs of life at the end of last season, and could continue that as some of the responsibility would be taken off his shoulders in the third spot in the rotation.

Joe Kelly has struggled since coming east to Boston, but, looking at what he did in St. Louis, he seems more than capable of finding that form and having the skill set of a bottom-of-the-rotation starter. And, to top it all off, youngster Anthony Ranaudo has already proved himself on the big stage, enough to find himself rounding out the group.

Like always, expect to see some other moving parts involved in case of injury or poor performance. If that’s ever that case, guys like Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, or even Henry Owens could see some time on the hill starting games next season.

Overall, expect to see a much, much better season out of the Sox this season.

Better offense + Better pitching = postseason. Now, study that equation, Red Sox. Your test starts in April.