The Boston Red Sox outfield lacks a top right fielder

Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have had a relatively quiet offseason, and one need that has still has to be filled is a top, right-handed hitting right fielder. They needed to move fast when the lockout ended, and they didn’t do enough.

The Red Sox added a top infielder in Trevor Story recently. He’s a nice addition. Carlos Correa would have been even better, but it is what it is.

Yet, Story has played shortstop all throughout his career, a spot that currently belongs to Xander Bogaerts. That means that Story will be forced to make the transition to second base for at least the 2022 season. Nevertheless, the Sox added another solid infielder, even if it results in a position change for him right off the bat.

Now, before the thunder rumbles, yes, Bogaerts can opt-out of his current deal after the 2022 season, which would pave the way for Story to play shortstop next season. Bogaerts contract extension talks are an issue for another day, however.

The more pressing issue is that the team has not filled the right-field spot on their roster, and that is going to be explored here. It’s a sticky situation, and the front office needs to address it before the season starts.

The Boston Red Sox dropped the ball when they traded Hunter Renfroe

The team has options in right field, but none of them are very good. Jackie Bradley Jr., who was reacquired before the lockout in the Hunter Renfroe trade, is probably the best option at this point. Bradley is a great defensive player, and he would be able to seamlessly slot into either right or center field depending on where Kike Hernandez and Alex Verdugo find themselves in the outfield.

The issue with Bradley is that he is a very poor hitter. He hit a paltry .163 last season over 134 games. Even worse is that the Boston Red Sox traded their starting right fielder from the 2021 season in Renfroe to bring him back into the fold.

Red Sox get their guy in Trevor Story. light. Related Story

Renfroe was just what this team needed last season; a very solid right-handed hitting right fielder who was a terrific fit in the locker room. He was one of Director of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom’s very best moves in the 2021 offseason. Unfortunately, Bloom erased the good created from that move by trading Renfroe (who hit 31 home runs and drove in 96 runs last season) to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for Bradley and a pair of prospects.

That still looks like a lousy deal here, and the team may have to play musical chairs in the outfield in order to try to fill a spot that Renfroe made his own last season.

So who will play in right field now? Who the heck knows at this point. Absent signing a free agent or a trade, it seems that the answer is going to have to come from the current group of players on the roster. They could move Kike Hernandez to right and play Bradley and his weak bat in center, or vice versa.

That leaves an outfield of Verdugo, Bradley, and Hernandez. It’s OK, but it’s not going to break down any walls in the American League East, or anywhere else, with its bats. It’s on the weak side in terms of batting production. So what other options are there?

Boston Red Sox alternative options in right field

None of the team’s internal alternatives for right field is really that good. They could move J.D. Martinez to left field and have him play under the Green Monster, while Verdugo shifts to right and Hernandez stays in center. That’s better at the plate, but weakens the defense considerably with the plodding Martinez out there.

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Another potential alternative is to go with Jarren Duran, who underwhelmed in 2021 with the big club, in center and move Hernandez to right. Duran has speed, and the potential is there, but when will he exhibit it at the big league level? Duran hit only .215 in 33 games with the Sox last season. That’s not exactly tearing it up. He’ll also be 26 in September, so he’s not exactly a “kid” anymore either.

To be frank, the options on the roster as it stands today are not all that great. Alternatively, the Verdugo, Hernandez, Renfroe combo from last season was pretty darned good.

The best of the remaining free agents is be Michael Conforto, formerly of the New York Mets. He’s been a very solid player when he’s managed to stay on the field for the most part. Despite that, he struggled mightily in 2021, hitting just .232 with 14 home runs. Unless the front office wants to take a low-cost flier on Conforto, the free-agent outfield ship has sailed.

What about trades? There may be some options, but what would the team be willing to give up to land a top tier outfielder? The aforementioned Bogaerts can opt out out his deal after this season. Should he be allowed to leave with the return of maybe a mere draft pick? The answer is, maybe not.

Bogaerts would fetch a handsome return in a trade, and with Story ready to roll at shortstop, a trade of Bogaerts may be the way to fill that right field hole in style. You’d weaken second base, but this team needs a slugger to play right field. The trade option is unlikely at this point though, with the season just around the corner. So, the team is left with less than optimum options.

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Again, that makes the Renfroe trade for a player who makes lots more money and can’t hit, and a couple of prospects who won’t contribute at all in 2022, look even worse. Hopefully the Boston Red Sox can figure this situation out, otherwise the overall outfield production could get ugly this season.