Five bold Red Sox predictions: Now, for an encore
Here are five predictions for the Red Sox in 2019. They should be taken seriously and with the full understanding that sports writers, observers, media members and others who may be considered pundits have an ability to see the future that others do not, as validated by years of training, as well as certification from the American Board of Soothsayers.
1. Craig Kimbrel returns to Sox on a four-year deal
Kimbrel does not earn a record contract as he continues his quest for the most saves all-time, but he does come back to the Sox for more than most people think the Sox can pay right now. He says at his press conference that he’s willing to pitch only the eighth inning, foregoing a save occasionally if the heart of the lineup is coming up.
2. Chris Sale wins the Cy Young
A Hall of Fame-track pitcher, Sale doesn’t have a particular piece of hardware yet. He’ll say, rightly, he has the one that matters, a ring, but a pitcher as elite as Sale at some point HAS to win the Cy Young — right? He doesn’t try to throw 100 mph every start in the middle of the summer, and that leads to better durability.
3. Blake Swihart is traded
He has the most offensive upside of the three catchers, but in a win-now window, the Sox decide to cater to the pitching staff that adores Sandy Leon. They entertain trading Christian Vazquez, but realize Swihart’s bringing the best return of the bunch.
4. Mookie Betts does NOT sign an extension
The allure of free agency and a chance to set the salary record after the 2020 season remains too appealing for Betts.
5. The price of winning hits home
The Red Sox’ focus on the 25-man roster starts to catch up to them. As they saw from 2016 to 2017, great players can have down years. Following a season when so much went right, the Sox hit roadblocks in 2019 — health, drop-offs — and start to feel the burn of an unimpressive farm system relative to even the rest of the A.L. East.