You can hardly get Boston Red Sox fans to agree on anything, except maybe that 2004 was the greatest year of their lives. The fan base is extremely passionate, which often leads to division.
The Chaim Bloom era was the latest example of that. For four years, Red Sox fans argued with each other whether Bloom was saving or ruining the franchise. Considering that he had three last-place finishes in four years, we saw how that turned out.
With Bloom gone, Boston fans need something else to argue about now, and that includes the team's latest free agent rumor.
Red Sox Free Agent Rumors
In an article for The Athletic on Tuesday, Red Sox beat writer Jen McCaffrey highlighted several free agent targets for Boston. Her list included All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield, who McCaffrey wrote "might be a priority for the Red Sox."
Based on social comments, Boston fans are surprisingly split over this rumor.
On the one hand, Merrifield is a pretty good player. He was an All-Star in 2023 for the Toronto Blue Jays, marking his third career selection. He also has a well-rounded skill set that includes great contact skills (two-time hits leader), speed (three-time stolen bases leader) and a bit of pop (six seasons with 10+ homers). He also plays second base, which is a definite area of need for the Red Sox after they rotated through the likes of Christian Arroyo, Emmanuel Valdez, Luis Urias and others last season.
So what's not to like? Well for starters, Merrifield is going to be 35 next year, so he's on the older side for a free agent. Age typically isn't kind to speedsters, and Merrifield seemed to lose a step last year, matching his career high in caught stealing (10).
The veteran's bat seems to be declining as well. Over the last three years, he's slashed .268/.312/.385 (92 OPS+), providing slightly below-average production. His power and on-base skills are nothing special.
Merrifield was worth 0.8 WAR last season according to Baseball-Reference, which certainly isn't All-Star caliber. All-Stars are typically worth 4-5 WAR, suggesting that Merrifield is overrated.
He may not move the needle much, but Merrifield still seems like a good fit for the Red Sox. He's durable, can play multiple positions and brings some speed to the table for a club that only had one player with more than 10 steals last year (Merrifield's 26 would have led the team). He'd also fill a hole at the keystone and would likely see his production improve at Fenway Park, where right-handed hitters like him typically thrive.
Merrifield wouldn't be the splashiest signing of the season, but he'd still be an upgrade nevertheless. The Red Sox should take those where they can.
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