The most notable phrase associated with the 2023 Boston Red Sox, but ignoring the less enlightening social media statements, is the DFA acronym. That is the shortened version designated for assignment, and based on how fluid DFA was in 2023, it saved much internet ink using DFA. The contractual nitty-gritty can is viewed here.
Players with DFAs are usually the baseball flotsam and jetsam or baseball debris. Boston has been heavily involved in DFA after selecting players from other teams and quickly discarding them. Dinelson Lamet was DFA after getting hammered in his only appearance. Jorge Alfaro is a DFA regular and was scrapped after a short stay. Occasionally they return to Boston when no one claims them, such as Christian Arroyo and Yu Chang. The list is extensive and is easily accessible on the transaction wire.
Just what will happen this offseason? The DFA and those not tendered a contract are minor issues, but the next layer up the food chain is is where I am going. Always early enough to examine possible roster building or roster subtraction for the 2024 team. This is not new territory for BSI, as Eric Cole has started the ball rolling.
Alex Verdugo will not be a member of the 2024 Red Sox ensemble. Past antics have seeped into the discussion on recent performances and possible clubhouse issues. Verdugo is a solid defender and a hitter who can give you a limited power .280+. Expect the Red Sox to shop Verdugo for the best available pitching and turn an outfield position over to a rookie. Just think Ceddanne Rafaela.
The pending free agent discussion begins with James Paxton and ends with Adam Duvall. Paxton has undoubtedly proved a valuable asset and arguably the ace of staff with considerable dysfunction. The Red Sox ignored the 2022 contributions of Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Wacha, and both went elsewhere.
Paxton would not be a budget breaker, and with his age (35) and injury history, the market will be brief in contract years and not be heavily loaded with money. This would be - at least for me - an intelligent signing, but history shows otherwise. I expect Paxton to pitch elsewhere.
Red Sox need to retain Paxton, Duvall
Duvall is the offensive version of Paxton with age and less injury history negativity. A right-handed power bat that can give you RBI, home runs, and a bushel of whiffs. An excellent defensive player is part of the overall package, and the Red Sox got what was expected. The downside - at least for Duvall - is contract incentives will not be reached over a hustle injury that cost him a pile of at-bats.
Would Duvall accept a similar contract for 2024? Would the Red Sox offer it? If hot-shot prospects Roman Anthony and Miguel Bleis were in 3A, Duvall could be elsewhere. Both Bleis and Anthony are projected a few seasons down the road, but that comes with the caveat of keeping their trending track. I expect the Red Sox to make an offer for Duvall and make it attractive enough for him to stay.
Justin Turner was a hot topic of trade rumors, and Boston probably rejected some quality prospects to keep Turner. Will they do the same this off-season? Turner provides just what they need and for the right price. A run producer who can step in defensively if needed. Turner is loaded with professionalism and is as solid as they come in the leadership and mentoring departments. Shipping Turner out would add a new chapter to stupid management moves.
If you are old enough to remember righty Ike Delock you know he has been reborn as Nick Pivetta. Pivetta does what is asked and what is necessary, and the righty is capable of tossing a three-hitter or getting murdered. Out of the bullpen, Pivetta became a faux starter with positive results.
A team like the Red Sox should refrain from trading first-line pitching and do their best to retain second-line pitching like the gritty Pivatta. With looming arbitration, if he goes, Pivatta will get a nice tick upwards in salary and possibly a multi-year deal from the Red Sox or elsewhere.
Reese McGuire provides the left-hand compliment for Connor Wong in the Red Sox catching duo. When McGuire suffered an injury that forced the team to use Caleb Hamilton before giving Alfaro another shot the result was Wong being an almost exclusive catcher until McGuire returned.
McGuire and Wong will stay firmly in place for 2024, but MCgiire's tenure will be that of a placeholder until Kyle Teel surfaces, and the way Teel has started, McGuire may be a mid-season roster casualty. Until that happens, Wong and McGuire will stay, but I suggest no long-term rental agreements.
I would try to send out feelers for taking on Rafael Dever's contract. This PR inspired move gave five-tool pay to a one-tool player, albeit that one tool is a noted ability to slug. Devers destroys baseballs; his at-bats can be beautiful or a horror show. The rest of the package is ordinary, and I strongly suspect Devers will be Pablo Sandoval in a few years or, worst Joe Foy.