Did Red Sox get hosed in Shōta Imanaga chase after Cubs’ deal?

The Red Sox missed out on yet another free-agent starting pitcher.

Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) pitches against the USA
Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) pitches against the USA / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
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As Shōta Imanaga's posting window hurtled to a close, the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox were among the final teams racing to make a deal.

And, to no surprise, Boston lost out. Or, in other words, they didn't compete, again.

On the night of Jan. 9, the Cubs and Imanaga agreed to a deal. Details of the contract came out later — Imanaga signed a complicated contract, reportedly valued at $15 million per year, according to Jon Morosi. New York Post's Jon Heyman reported the deal includes "player/team options and escalators that could boost it way up to $80 million," with a guarantee of around $30 million for two years.

According to CBS News Boston, a source revealed the Red Sox's offer was "characterized as lagging behind other teams." While there is little information about how much Boston offered, this news is wholly unsurprising to fans.

Boston is running out of free-agent pitching options as Shōta Imanaga lands with Cubs

So far, many baseball fans regard Imanaga's contract as a reasonable one, and one that was definitely within Boston's reach. A pitcher of Imanaga's pedigree, whether the majority of his experience is in another country or not, is worth $15 million per year on a short-term deal in the current market.

Maybe Imanaga had his heart set on the Cubs from the jump -- a recent Heyman report may corroborate that. Heyman said a team offered Imanaga double what Chicago did, but he still signed with the Cubs.

The mystery team likely isn't Boston if the CBS News Boston report is true. But maybe the Red Sox made a desperate offer as a last resort, only to be too late to the punch, further revealing Boston is becoming less and less of a destination for big-name players. If this is the case, ownership should be concerned about the future of the team.

Rumors have circulated about the Red Sox trying to shed payroll before anyone else is signed. Boston doesn't need to shed payroll in the first place — John Henry and Co. have plenty of money to sign whoever they want at any time. It's the reluctance to do so that fans are upset with, and the frustration could very well be reflected in attendance at Fenway Park this year.

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