Details of Red Sox offer to Shōta Imanaga revealed day of Cubs presser

Once again, the Red Sox came up just short in their pursuit of an impactful free agent

Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga
Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the Boston Red Sox’ unwillingness to outbid another team cost them a key free-agent target.

The latest example of Red Sox ownership letting a potential star slip away came to fruition this past week when Shōta Imanaga, a 30-year-old pitching phenom from Japan, officially signed with the Chicago Cubs.

After missing out on several upper-level starters – including Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola, and Sonny Gray – Boston seemed to pivot to the next tier of hurlers, with Imanaga at the center of that group.

The southpaw made sense as a cheaper yet solid alternative for the Red Sox. After all, he went 7-5 with a 2.66 ERA, 10.64 K/9, 1.36 BB/9, and a 1.02 WHIP in NPB last season.

In the end, though, the Cubs won the competition for Imanaga’s services, signing him to a four-year, $53 million deal that could escalate to $80 million over five years.

The day Imanaga was introduced to the Chicago media on Friday, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe relayed the terms of Boston’s offer to Imanaga. The Red Sox offered him a two-year deal that could have been extended to four years through vesting options.

Boston reportedly offered slightly more guaranteed money than the Cubs, but Imanaga chose the security of a longer-term contract. In reality, the Red Sox could've navigated through the difficulties of these negotiations and given Imanaga a straightforward contract that paid him well, but still not a prohibitive amount of money.

Losing Imanaga is the latest failed pursuit by the Red Sox’ front office in an offseason that has been influenced by ownership’s refusal to spend significant money. Boston continues to be linked to almost every high-profile free agent, yet they’ve only signed Lucas Giolito and Cooper Criswell so far.

The Red Sox continue to finish as the runner-up in bidding wars, perhaps submitting lowball offers so that they can try to save face publicly. They were in on Imanaga but wouldn’t add an extra year or two to beat Chicago’s offer. They reportedly offered at least $300 million to Yamamoto, but that wasn’t quite in the same ballpark as his $325 million pact with Los Angeles. And they lowballed Teoscar Hernandez with a deal that paid $14 million per year while the Dodgers offered (and signed) him for $23 million over one year.

Time and talent are slipping away rather quickly. Many top-tier names have already signed, and those who do remain available will likely join the highest bidder before Spring Training begins next month.

It remains to be seen whether the Red Sox will loosen their budget and add pieces to a roster that can compete in the American League next season. Fans might now want to hold their breath, though.