Boston Red Sox: Five biggest questions this offseason
What is the biggest need for the Red Sox in free agency?
Sean Penney: A power hitter to fill the DH role vacated by David Ortiz. Boston’s major league-leading offense was only middle of the pack in home runs and they just lost their best power hitter. Mookie Betts was second on the team with a surprising 31 homers, but isn’t a prototypical slugger that can be expected to reach that mark annually. Hanley Ramirez also reached 30, but for only the second time in his career. This lineup needs more power and there happens to be a guy up in Toronto entering free agency that fits the bill.
Brandon Nickel: With Ortiz retiring, the first instinct would be to say that the team will need another big bat to try to fill that hole. However, a few spots have to be settled before moving in that direction. The bullpen was working well at the end of the season because Koji Uehara returned as the set-up man. If Koji retires, or at least does not re-sign with the Red Sox, the pen may return to their woes of the middle of the season when Uehara was hurt. Brad Ziegler is another key component to that combination for the seventh inning. If Ziegler goes somewhere else, that could leave nobody strong enough to get the Red Sox to the eighth inning. Starting pitching should be alright, but it wouldn’t hurt to grab another decent starter, if possible. If Uehara and Ziegler don’t mind playing as Craig Kimbrel‘s opening act, then the Red Sox should be trying to pay for that big bat.
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Rick McNair: With the loss of Ortiz (127 RBI), you don’t have to be a baseball clairvoyant to determine that need. The stupid move would be to trade for a replacement but never count out stupid with the Red Sox. The smart move would be the free agent market and unless you have gone zombie the answer in obvious – look North or South, DD. Toronto has not one but (count ‘em) two right-hand sluggers for the possible taking. South is Mark Trumbo and his MLB leading 47 home runs. Three players all providing an answer to a deep pockets franchise. Their agents are no doubt drooling at the prospect.
Matthew Loper: Pitching was the reason they were swept and bounced from the playoffs.
Chance Puckett: A lot of people are focusing on filling in the DH spot. However, I think the bullpen needs to be addressed. There are quite a few relievers that will be on the market this offseason. Also, there are lots of closers that could be switched to set-up guys, such as Mark Melancon, Jonathan Papelbon or Travis Wood.
Tracy Katzke: With our bullpen requiring a major overhaul, I would like to see Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman as members of the 2017 Red Sox. Paired with Kimbrel, those three elite arms would allow us to shorten the game to a length of six-innings. In addition, both would be under the age of thirty at the start of the 2017 season. Admittedly, both would likely command hefty annual salaries, though not nearly that of an elite starting pitcher and as relievers, contract-length would not be anywhere approaching that required for a starter. As relievers, both pitchers also would arrive in Boston with less wear on their arms than a similarly aged starting pitcher.