The few times the Boston Red Sox have announced an addition this offseason, the most prescient follow up questions have been "who?" or "why?" or both. Last night, when they signed reliever Cooper Criswell to a one year, $1 million contract, the Red Sox's first free agent signing of the offseason, both were applicable.
Criswell is coming from the Tampa Bay Rays, where he pitched 33 innings for a 5.73 ERA, and that's pretty much everything you need to know. Instead of getting Shohei Ohtani (okay, that one might've been a long shot), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (a long shot, but less than Ohtani), or Jordan Montgomery (easily the most likely of the three) in order to help Boston's either too young or too injured rotation, they picked up a reliever who spent more time in the minors than the majors last year, for the shortest possible amount of time and almost the least amount of money they could give.
This, after Red Sox chairman Tom Werner told reporters the Red Sox were going "full throttle" this offseason following Craig Breslow's hiring to the front office. Is Cooper Criswell what Werner and Breslow would describe as a "full throttle" signing? Because a more apt comparison might be "let off the brakes a touch to inch forward in traffic."
Red Sox fans roast Craig Breslow for Chaim Bloom impression, 'full-throttle' mystery signing
Following the Criswell signing, reactions from exasperated Red Sox fans started to pour in, variously pointing out the unchanged state of the rotation, referencing former Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom's affection for signing underperforming players and trying to rehabilitate them, and the absolute ridiculousness of the team's first signing, months into the offseason, being for a "who?" and "why?" reliever who hasn't pitched more than 60 major league innings.
Maybe some good things are still coming down the pipe. Maybe we just needed to let Craig cook. But if a table-setting move like this not only took months to get done following the conclusion of the regular season but doesn't even say much of anything about how the team will get better next season, how much faith should we really have in this front office to do anything of note? Free agents are coming off the board a little faster everyday, and the Red Sox are either not in or are missing out on all of them. If the plan is to sign five more Cooper Criswell's and call it an offseason, we might as well just skip ahead to this time next year and call the 2024 season a wash.