The Boston Red Sox and their new front office have a lot of work to do this offseason. While the starting pitching staff understandably is where the bulk of the attention is at the moment, Boston also needs to make some moves to make their lineup more well-rounded and to give some of their young guys a chance to succeed.
Right now, the understanding is that Boston could be in play for a second baseman, a right-handed hitting outfielder, and a DH assuming said DH is of high quality. Interesting options at all price points exist for all of those positions in free agency, but what could Boston's lineup look like if money was no object and Craig Breslow swung for the fences before the 2024 season?
The dream 2024 Boston Red Sox starting lineup
While this is going to be a "dream" scenario, there are some self-imposed limits here. It would be easy to just assemble an All-Star team by assuming trades for players that are very likely to be unavailable happen, but that seems to go a bit far. The goal here is to keep this feeling like a Red Sox lineup while adding available free agents where appropriate with very little regard for payroll limitations. Boston's ownership and front office probably wouldn't let this happen, but it is still fun to think about.
#1 - Ceddanne Rafaela - CF
Lineup construction can go a lot of different ways from just listing guys from best hitters -> worst hitters to a more traditional lineup that prioritizes traditional lineup roles and handedness. We are going to split the difference with this lineup and go with Ceddanne Rafaela in the leadoff spot.
Rafaela was a revelation in the minor leagues for Boston in 2023 as he showed a tantalizing combination of speed, power, and defensive acumen. In 108 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Ceddanne slashed .304/.349/.520 with 20 homers and 36 stolen bases. Given that he did basically the same thing in 2022, there is no reason to think that last season was an outlier. It sure helps that he is a very good and versatile defender who could win a Gold Glove in center.
Ceddanne got his first taste of the big leagues late in 2023 to mixed results. He showed glimpses of the player he was in the minors, but still only managed to post a .666 OPS in 89 plate appearances with a couple homers and three stolen bases. We are wagering that he will be significantly better than that in 2024 and would be a lineup staple for Boston even in the most ideal scenario.
There is some risk with giving a young player such an important spot in the lineup, but Rafaela has the talent to make it worth the risk.