After staying on the outskirts of playoff contention for much of the season, the Red Sox finally plummeted out of the race in late August, guaranteeing another September of meaningless baseball at Fenway Park.
With several veterans set to be free agents this winter, their time in Boston is likely short. Chaim Bloom has shown a strong aversion to re-signing his own free agents, letting nearly all of them walk. That was especially noticeable last season when Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Nate Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill all departed, leaving the roster full of holes.
Out with the old and in with the new. That’s how Bloom prefers to operate, letting players leave rather than pay them market value. He’s also inclined to trade players who are a year away from free agency if he doesn’t think he can keep them, as he’s done with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi.
With that in mind, here are three players who likely won’t be back with the Sox in 2024.
3 Red Sox Who Won’t Return in 2024
1. James Paxton
Paxton’s only making $4 million this season, but he’s about to get a lot more expensive. The 34-year-old lefty is set to hit free agency after his first healthy season since 2019, which is great timing on his part.
Quality starting pitching is at a premium in today’s game, and pretty much any halfway decent starter can fetch a multi-year deal in free agency. That will be the case for Paxton, who’s proven he can still be an above-average starter when healthy.
Despite making just 6 starts total from 2020-2022, Paxton didn’t skip a beat after missing the entire 2022 season. He’s been one of Boston’s top pitchers this year, going 7-4 with a 3.99 ERA and a 9.6 K/9 in 18 starts.
Bloom has shied away from paying for starting pitching, however, so he’s extremely unlikely to pony up for Paxton. If he wouldn’t do it for Eovaldi, Wacha or Hill last winter, why would he do it for Big Maple, who’s a much bigger injury risk than any of them?
Paxton will fetch a nice two or three-year deal somewhere else, and Bloom will surely regret not trading him at the deadline when he had the chance.