After the 2023 MLB trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox are almost entirely the same team as when the season began. While this may be viewed as management hesitant to make a move to give a boost to the current clubhouse, the Red Sox are in a great position to compete next year, even while potentially sneaking into a Wild Card spot in 2023.
Chaim Bloom has built the Red Sox farm system from the ground up, after Dave Dombrowski moved most of the Red Sox young talent to win it all in 2018. Bloom was faced with a tough task after taking the helm of a team with high expectations in 2020. This team has a strong young core that has been allowed to develop both in the Major Leagues this season and in the farm system.
Let's explore the potential 2024 lineup for the Red Sox, one that will be able to compete in the gauntlet that is the AL East.
1. First Base: Triston Casas
With the fall from grace of Bobby Dalbec, the Red Sox really needed to hit on the highly touted prospect that is Triston Casas. The tall first baseman has done nothing but prove he is the player of the future at this position in 2023. It's difficult to find a young player with as much plate discipline as Casas, who displays patience in each and every plate appearance. His batting average has only increased in each month this season as he settles in to his everyday role, earning Rookie of the Month in July. The Red Sox have allowed Casas to figure things out at the Major League level, who has turned into a confident hitter, and one that should be around for the long haul in Boston.
2. Second Base: Trevor Story
Trevor Story has been sorely missed so far this season after being sidelined while recovering from elbow surgery in January. The main issue this season for the Red Sox on the defensive side has been in their middle infield. Story was likely in line to be a Gold Glove finalist at second base last season, and should see most of his time back there in an effort to put less pressure on his arm. He has shown flashes of his power that was so key in Colorado, which will add another layer to the lineup once he makes his return. Story will be around for a while after signing a six-year contract in 2021, and should reclaim his spot at second base upon his return.
3. Shortstop: Marcelo Mayer
The crown jewel of Red Sox prospects has his spot at shortstop waiting for his arrival. The placeholder players at the key defensive position have been mostly serviceable. Still, Mayer has taken the Minor Leagues by storm and it is only a matter of time before he takes over the position for the long haul. At only 20 years old, Mayer has been called up to Double-A Portland where he will likely finish his 2023 season. With placeholders like Yu Chang and Pablo Reyes holding down the position for the rest of 2023, the Red Sox can afford to take their time and allow Mayer to come up to the Major Leagues when he is ready. He will likely be called up at some point next season, and show why the three teams in front of him should not have allowed him to fall into the Red Sox' lap in the 2021 MLB Draft.
4. Third Base: Rafael Devers
This one should come as no surprise. With Rafael Devers signed for ten more years in Boston, fans will have a great hitter with sneakily improving defense at the hot corner to look forward to watching for the next decade. Devers has seen a dip in batting average this year, but that has not stopped him from leading the team in home runs and RBIs, which will likely be a constant throughout his contract. Red Sox fans know who Devers is: a player who loves competing in the Boston market and is thrilled to be here for the long haul.
5. Catcher: Connor Wong
Amid many other young players' breakouts seasons, Connor Wong is often overlooked. A piece of the Mookie Betts trade from 2020, Wong has exhibited great defense behind the plate this season, coming into his own in an everyday role. He is throwing runners out at a rate of 32%, 11 points above the league average at 21% per Baseball Reference. Kyle Teel, the team's first round draft pick in 2023, will likely spend at least a few years in the minors before being called up. Wong will be able to hold down the fort very well for the team in 2024 and beyond.
6. Left Field: Masataka Yoshida
The big ticket free agent signing that had many other executives laughing has taken the league by storm in his rookie season. Yoshida has been patient at the plate, working himself into hitter's counts and producing all year. With a slash line of .306/.367/.487, Yoshida has shown the league that he deserved every penny of the 5 year, $90 million contract the Red Sox gave him. Masa has seen most of his time in left field this season, but has also been given days at DH. With serviceable defense and hitting that will only improve has he settles in, Yoshida will be a key piece of the Red Sox for the next four years.
7. Center Field: Jarren Duran
Amid a breakout season, the speedy outfielder has cemented himself as the future of the Red Sox in center field. Many fans were ready to write Duran off after a rough 2022 campaign, but the young budding star did not let the noise get to him. Duran's turnaround from last year has solidified him as the leadoff man in 2023, with elite speed that has thrown teams for a loop multiple times this season. With 23 stolen bases this season, Duran gives the Red Sox a key piece in the offensive game that has not been seen in some time, while slashing .312/.363/.502. His defense that is improving every game, as exhibited by a sliding catch to likely save extra bases vs. the Mariners on Tuesday night. Duran's breakout has been incredibly fun to watch, and the speedster will keep his spot in the outfield in 2024. See more on Duran's breakout from Zander Manning.
8. Right Field: Alex Verdugo
The main return in the Mookie Betts trade has embraced the city of Boston since his arrival in 2020. Verdugo has made it clear that he wouldsign an extension to stay in Boston, and while that remains to be seen, he has all but proven that he deserves a new deal. The right fielder brings the passion into the game that some players may be more hesitant to exhibit. With offensive numbers that improved each year, the outfielder has shown that he deserves to wear a Red Sox uniform for a long time. Verdugo was relieved to not be moved at the deadline amid trade rumors, and will remain in Boston in 2024 while seeking a new deal.
9. Designated Hitter: Justin Turner
Turner has done nothing but hit since coming to Boston after a long tenure with the Dodgers, proving myself and others wrong. It seems like each time the team needs a key hit, Turner is the one to give it to them, coming through in plenty of clutch moments throughout the year. He has also seen time at first, second, and third base, giving infielders off days when he is not playing DH. Turner carries a 13.4 million dollar player option for the 2024 season, which would be a bargain for the team given his production in 2023. A leader in the clubhouse that was much needed after the departure of many veterans from the 2018 Red Sox, fans will be hoping to see Turner back in Boston for the 2024 season.
10. Starting Rotation/Bullpen
Pitching is the aspect of this team that has the most question marks heading into next season. The breakout of Brayan Bello has shown fans that the Red Sox are still capable of developing young arms, but as it stands the team does not have any more Major League ready starters in the farm system. injuries are a key concern for this staff. Chris Sale, Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck are all expected to return at some point from injury this season, but Sale and Whitlock have had multiple stints on the injured list in the past few years.
The bullpen has less question marks, with All-Star Closer Kenley Jansen, and set-up men Chris Martin and John Schreiber all returning. The Red Sox have a solidified lineup, with not much of a need to spend big money on additions to the offense. With a free agent class that has much more starting pitching than offensive pieces, the Red Sox are in prime position to bolster their staff in the off-season. This would also allow for versatility with Whitlock, Houck, and Nick Pivetta who have all started games and come out of the pen for the team in the past few years. With a bit of help from the free agent market, the Red Sox are capable of having a great pitching staff to make a World Series run in 2024.
The Red Sox are in prime position to return to glory in the next few seasons. Chaim Bloom has built a team that can compete in the short term, while building a farm system that will be able to boost the team at the Major League level when ready. 2024 will be a telling season for the Red Sox who have been in the middle of the pack in the past few years, but the team the Bloom has built is ready to compete in October next season.