Boston Red Sox
2022 Record: 78-84
Fifth place, AL East
Team ERA: 4.53 (25th in MLB)
Team OPS: .731 (9th in MLB)
What Went Right
It has been the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for the Red Sox in the past few years. After finishing as the top dog in the AL East from 2016 to 2018, they have finished in the basement for two of the last four years. The AL East has always been a beast division but with the up-and-coming Baltimore Orioles, the toughest division just got that much harder. Rafael Devers had an excellent first half and was hitting .324/.379/.601 before a back strain followed by a hamstring strain wore the 25-year-old down. Xander Bogaerts was battling Aaron Judge and Luis Arraez for the AL Batting Title before a late September swoon lowered his average to .307. Brayan Bello‘s second stint with the team showed the Boston fan base a glimmer of hope with a 2.59 ERA in the last month of the season.
What Went Wrong
Oh boy. Where to start? Chris Sale only made two starts after missing most of the season with a stress fracture in his ribs. He fractured his finger in his second game and then fractured his wrist after falling off his bike while getting lunch (If he doesn’t get a deal with Uber Eats, what are we even doing here?) Trevor Story, the Sox big-time free agency acquisition, never found his footing in his new home and hit just .238/.303/.434 before a heel injury ended his season prematurely. J.D. Martinez didn’t have the walk year he wanted and smacked just 16 homers across 596 plate appearances. Bobby Dalbec‘s two-half last year was just a mirage and had a .215/.283/.369 with a 33% strikeout rate before being demoted to Triple-A. The team relied too much on an old friend but outside of some highlight catches, Jackie Bradley Jr. was an absolute disaster except at Fenway where he surprisingly hit .288/.320/.466 across 48 games. Jarren Duran was a disaster in center field and his bat wasn’t much better he also finished the season in Worchester. To add salt to the wound, there was no reliever that finished with double-digit saves and three pitchers (Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck, and John Schreiber) tied for the top spot with eight saves a piece. Even outside of the closer’s role, the entire bullpen was a mess. They allowed 91 bequeathed runners to score, which was the third most in the league. Only the Orioles (103) and the Angels (93) finished with worse numbers.
**Picture it. Colorado. 2021. The only team you know is non-competitive and you are hoping for a trade to a contender at the deadline. However, that team is the Rockies so you are left scratching your head at the decision. During the winter, you are hoping to sign with your hometown Rangers but they had other plans and pony up for Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. The Red Sox, looking to make some kind of splash, offer a nice long-term deal which you take. Then all heck breaks loose. You end up getting sick which slows your debut in Spring Training. As you are getting over that sickness, you welcome a child to your family. Huzza! Well, after you return you get plunked in the head which leads you to miss a few games. You are still trying to settle into a new town with an extended family, you get plunked on the hand in July which puts you on the injured list until August 27. While your team is in a death spiral, you develop so heel soreness that ends your season on September 22. That, folks, was Trevor’s story in 2022. With the move to Boston, he slid over to second base and will begin 2023 without shortstop eligibility. It is still up in the air if Xander Bogaerts will opt out so he might gain shortstop eligibility sometime during the year.
**Rafael Devers’ season seemed to mirror the team’s season. At the halfway point, he was hitting a phenomenal .324 with 22 homers over 377 plate appearances and made his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Much like the Red Sox’s chances of competing for a Wild Card spot, he would only smack five more balls out of the park down the stretch. To his credit, he was battling hamstring and back issues during the dog days of summer and officially landed on the injured list on July 23 with a right hamstring strain. By the end of draft season, the 25-year-old was the second third baseman and 13th player off the board but his swoon in the summer months should push him into the middle of the second round come draft season. Outside of a significant injury, fantasy managers should feel confident in drafting Devers, especially knowing they snagged a top-shelf third baseman before the bottom falls out at the position.
**J.D. Martinez will be on another team next year as it was reported that the team will not be extending the 35-year-old veteran a qualifying offer this winter. It makes sense as the $19.65 million price tag is a steep price for the veteran who smacked a pitiful 16 homers in his final season in Boston. Without the QO tag, he should be able to find a spot on another club but fantasy managers should not expect to see the 25+ homers he posted for four of the last five seasons. He will also enter the season as UTL-only as didn’t play any games on the field. Dwindling power and only UTL-eligible? Thanks for the memories, J.D. but I’m going to pass.
**Chris Sale was a World Series hero in 2018 but has been missing in action for the past few seasons. In fact, he has missed 340 out of the 384 regular season games from 2020-2022. What type of pitcher will he be when he returns next Spring? If anyone tells you they know, they are surely trying to pull wool over your eyes. The 33-year-old will surely be on some type of workload limitation next year and if it were me, I’d steer clear on draft day. Sale is what I like to call, a big room player, huge ceiling but also a massive floor. Sprinkle in a crowded AL ‘B’East, no thank you.
**With the team out of the playoff hunt, the Sox called up Triston Casas on September 4th to have him get a taste of the big leagues before relying on the youngster next year. He would have debuted earlier if it wasn’t for an ankle injury that cost him two months’ worth of games during the summer. Scouts have raved about Casas’ patient approach at the plate and nothing is more evident than his .358 OBP while only hitting .197 over 95 plate appearances. He finished the season with 19 walks which accounted for the ninth most on the team. Eric Hosmer‘s role on the team is up in the air but with J.D. Martinez most certainly out the door, Casas has the chance to be a superstar next year.
Team Needs: They need to re-sign Xander or replace him with another competent shortstop. With Trevor Story‘s struggles this year on top of a hurt arm that shifted him over to second base, he cannot be counted on making those deep throws from short. The system has some interesting middle infield prospects but they are two years away, at least. That being said, with the amount of money coming off the books and a robust free agent class, the Red Sox could push all the chips in and sign a couple of the top guys, even though the cynical fan in me says they will not do so.