Will the Boston Red Sox score enough runs to be a playoff-caliber team in 2020 after trading superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers?
The Red Sox offense was not the problem in a disappointing 2019 season. Boston was one of four American League teams to score 900-plus runs, coming in fourth with 901. The Red Sox also led the AL in hits, ranked No. 4 in total bases and No. 2 in on-base percentage. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers both had tremendous seasons, and these young stars are in the early stages of their primes.
Betts is an MVP-caliber player and won a batting title, three AL Silver Slugger awards and an AL MVP over his career in Boston. Losing him will no doubt make the Red Sox offense less intimidating for opposing pitchers, but as J.D. Martinez told reporters at spring training Monday, Boston's offense still has the potential to be quite potent.
"Mookie's a great player," Martinez said. "He's one of the best players in the game. Obviously, you're going to feel it, in a sense, but I think we have a lot of really, really good players. You look at the guys who had breakout years last year, guys come back. I don't know what our numbers were offensively, but I would say one of the top-three, top-four offensive teams in baseball. Obviously, it's going to take a hit, but I really believe in the guys we have, and if guys continue to get better, I think we'll be really good."
The likeliest issue for the Red Sox in 2020 will be pitching.
No one knows what the Red Sox will get out of Chris Sale. When healthy, Sale has the talent to be one of baseball's best starting pitchers. Staying healthy has been an issue for him throughout his Red Sox tenure, though. Eduardo Rodriguez had a breakout 2019 campaign, and his next challenge is showing he can pitch at a high level consistently.
David Price wasn't always stellar, but he pitched pretty well when healthy. He was thrown into the Betts trade, opening up another hole in Boston's rotation. Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez will likely be the third and fourth starters, respectably.
Baseball is super tough to predict -- who could have imagined the Washington Nationals winning the World Series last year? The Red Sox could surprise us this season, but for that to happen, the pitching must be much-improved from what it was in 2019.