The Boston Red Sox entered this offseason with a clear focus: add several starting pitchers. Boston does not want to sign players with the qualifying offer attached to them. Naturally, this limited their potential scope of targets. Nevertheless, one player emerged as a seemingly perfect option for the club: Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
The Japanese pitching phenom was posted this offseason and, at just 25 years old, has the potential to be an ace for many years to come. Unfortunately, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday evening, meaning Boston struck out on one of its top targets this offseason.
As the Red Sox pivot to other free agents, here are five appealing options that could beef up the Red Sox's rotation going into 2024.
Imanaga is another pitcher who was posted after a strong season in Japan. He doesn’t possess nearly as much fanfare as Yamamoto, and he’s also a bit deeper into his career at 30 years old. Nevertheless, he’s an appealing middle-of-the-rotation option for Boston, not to mention the fact that he’s markedly cheaper than Yamamoto.
Through 24 outings in 2023, Imanaga posted a 2.66 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 1.4 BB/9. He also pitched in the World Baseball Classic, leading Japan over the USA in the gold medal game with two strong innings that saw him strike out Paul Goldschmidt and Cedric Mullins. He previously hit 96 mph with his fastball and recorded a lethal 20.5 inches of vertical break on his heater against the USA.
Evidently, the upside with Imanaga is very real. He’d be a rewarding consolation prize for the Red Sox, though they’ll surely face competition as the market shifts following the Yamamoto signing.