After weeks at a near impasse, Craig Breslow and the Boston Red Sox are finally starting to show some signs of life.
There was anticipation that once the Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto dominoes fell, that the hot stove would heat up a bit more. In the case of the Red Sox, that certainly has proved true as Craig Breslow made his two most notable moves of the offseason within the span of 24 hours. On Friday night, starter Lucas Giolito and the Red Sox came to an agreement on a two-year, $38.5 million deal. The contract includes an opt-out after the 2024 season and a conditional option after 2025.
Breslow wasn't done with his rotation remodeling, as he then flipped former star southpaw Chris Sale for young Atlanta Braves infielder Vaughn Grissom on Saturday. The move helped rid Boston of Sale's albatross of a contract. The seven-time All-Star was due $27.5 million and would have been slotted as the club's second-highest salary in 2024. To help offset Sale's salary, the Red Sox were also forced to include $17 million in the trade package to Atlanta.
Breslow has indicated that he will continue to be active in his pursuit of roster upgrades, as he stated Saturday on the "Baseball Isn't Boring" podcast:
"I will not stop looking at opportunities to upgrade. We feel comfortable with the team, but we also recognize that there should be opportunities to upgrade and we’re not going to stop until we walk down every path."- Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow
Salary continues to remain a frustrating sticking point in the Boston front office. Per Chris Cotillo, "According to a baseball source, the Red Sox have told at least one free agent target that they need to shed more payroll before pursuing him as aggressively as they want to." The team's insistence on shedding salary has been evident in the departures of Alex Verdugo and Sale in exchange for young contract-controllable players.
The timing of the quote is also an important detail. If the comment regarding the need for Boston to shed additional salary came before the Sox had offloaded Sale, that would be more justifiable. If it came after, then ownership should continue to receive backlash for pinching pennies when they are currently around $37 million short of the first competitive balance tax threshold.
As Breslow continues his efforts to upgrade the roster, here are five players that may get caught up in addition by subtraction, and find themselves leaving Boston in the new year.
5. Bobby Dalbec
Against all odds, Bobby Dalbec is still in the Boston Red Sox system. After an impressive ascent up the Red Sox farm system, he enjoyed a 2021 season where he appeared to have established himself as Boston's first baseman of the future. Since then, he has failed to replicate his offensive production from that season at the major league level.
Dalbec did slug 33 homers in Triple-A Worcester last season, but his prowess at the plate failed to translate to success in the bigs. Across several stints with Boston last year, he batted a measly .204 while striking out 28 times in 49 at bats. He only had a single homer with the MLB club, which also accounted for his lone RBI.
The 28 year old has primarily featured at the corner infield positions, where big league spots are locked up. Triston Casas has a stranglehold at first base. The former first-round pick finished his rookie campaign as a finalist for both the Silver Slugger and Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, the team has committed a 10-year, $313.5 million deal to Devers as a franchise cornerstone at the hot corner.
Boston needs to make a clean break from Dalbec, especially as he continues to age past his prime and his potential becomes less of an unknown and more of a disappointment. He can only hang onto his former promise for so long.