Spring Training is days away and the 2019 season is getting ready to begin. But the start of the season also brings a large number of free agents to the forefront for the Red Sox.
We’re just days away from the start of a brand new season and the beginning of a championship defense. The Red Sox took a rather quiet approach to the 2019 free agency window and that may be with good cause. Looking into the future, there is a large crop of guys that will be free agents when this upcoming season ends.
The big future free agent that everyone is concerned about is Mookie Betts. The reigning MVP will be able to test the market in the 2021 window, giving the Sox some time to lock him down beforehand. But they can’t have tunnel vision for Betts and forsake the group that will be able to move when this season concludes.
There are some serious key players that will be up for free agency come 2020 and they’ve all played major roles in the recent Red Sox success. Some of the names on the list will be Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, and veterans Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland among others. That’s a huge number of guys that mean a whole lot to the organization.
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In this day and age, it would be a miracle to retain a majority of these names let alone all of them. It just doesn’t happen. But with this free agency window being so quiet, I’m hoping Dave Dombrowski is working on a plan for the next two periods. Betts will absolutely be the focus for 2021, especially if he follows up his MVP season with another strong performance.
If the Red Sox can’t manage to work out deals with at least a portion of the 2020 class, things won’t be so fun in Boston. For me, the key guys to focus on are going to be Bogaerts, Holt, and Sale. These feel like the three biggest from that crop. Porcello is an important arm but for the inconsistency in his years in Boston and his wage, it’s easier to part with him.
Pearce and Moreland aren’t getting younger and with their veteran status Dombrowski may be able to get them to stay for cheaper but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he let them go. Both have been important as the anchor at first base and Pearce was one of the reasons the Red Sox won the World Series, but it’s still a business. I wouldn’t hate to see them in Boston in the future but it has to be for the right price.
Of the big three that I’ve outlined both Sale and Bogaerts are set to make some decent money in 2019, $15M and $12M respectively. Holt is still working on a smaller deal and is set to bring in just under $3.6M. I think Dombrowski can re-sign Holt and give him a raise without killing the budget for the other free agents on the board.
Sale and Bogey may be another story as they’ll both want to command decent wages in their next deals. They could be a tad trickier to work the numbers out with but it all comes down to how the team performs. If this upcoming season goes off the rails for some reason and the Sox don’t see the success they’d like, guys may not want to come back. But we won’t be having any of that negative junk around here.
As we’ve seen lately, the ownership group isn’t worried about paying the Luxury Tax penalty if it means success stays at Fenway. So if they have to spend a little more to retain these guys next season, I don’t think they’d flinch at it. And when the time comes I imagine they’ll be backing up the Brinks truck to Mookie’s front door.
With losing Joe Kelly this winter to a bigger deal from LA and the Craig Kimbrel saga, I don’t think the Red Sox will shy away from spending money the next two offseasons. Not to mention all of the spending other franchises have to just to keep pace with the Red Sox, they won’t be able to stay quiet for too many free agent periods.
The next two offseasons will set the course for the future of the Red Sox. With several members of their core coming due in the next 48 months, they’ll need to make some moves. If Boston wants to keep winning they’ll need to spend some cash to keep the guys happy and at home. With the ownership willing to do what it takes to keep the silverware coming, I don’t think that’ll be an issue at all.