Red Sox Offseason Primer: Free Agents, Payroll, Offseason Needs

Boston has a lot of work to do this offseason to get back on track.
2023 Red Sox Winter Weekend
2023 Red Sox Winter Weekend / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Now that the Boston Red Sox have a new head of their front office after the hiring of Craig Breslow, attention can finally turn to the offseason and what Boston can/should do coming off a colossally disappointing 2023 season. It is hard to sugarcoat finishing in last place in the AL East and six games below .500, but this is a Red Sox roster that could compete next season given the quality of it's core. However, that will only happen if this brand new front office can press the right buttons this offseason.

Here is a quick breakdown of what the Red Sox have to work with this offseason and what to expect.

Red Sox Projected 2024 Payroll

Estimated 2024 Payroll: $179,698,151
Estimated 2024 Luxury Tax Payroll: $193,320,185

All payroll numbers for the Red Sox have been pulled from Spotrac and are purely estimates right now. While a big chunk of their payroll is firm and known because of guys under contract for a set rate, we still don't know how much arb-eligible players are going to make, which contract options are going to get exercised, or if Boston is going to extend any players which all could impact their 2024 payroll numbers.

One number to keep in mind here is the luxury tax threshold which is $237,000,000 for 2024. Tax penalties begin once a team's payroll exceeds that amount and it will be very interesting to see if Breslow is given the leeway to approach or even exceed it.

Red Sox Free Agents

James Paxton
Adam Duvall
Adalberto Mondesi
Yu-Cheng Chang
Dinelson Lamet
Caleb Hamilton
Justin Turner*
Corey Kluber*

The good news is that Boston does have some money coming off the books especially when it comes to Paxton, Duvall, Kluber, and Turner. The bad news is that Paxton was one of Boston's best pitchers in 2023 and both Duvall and Turner were very productive players on offense for the Red Sox albeit with some warts to their game. Turner has a player option for $13.4 million next season and Kluber has an $11 million club option for 2024 so it isn't a lock that they will hit free agency. However, it does seem very likely that both options will end up not getting exercised with Turner's player option being the most up in the air.

Red Sox Players eligible for arbitration

Alex Verdugo
Luis Urias
John Schreiber
Reese McGuire
Nick Pivetta

The vast majority of Boston's young players are actually pre-arbitration players, so the payroll considerations aren't as big for the Red Sox this go-around in arbitration. The biggest name on the list, without question, is Alex Verdugo who is entering his final year of arbitration and is likely to get a significant raise over the $6.3 million he made in 2023. However, despite the fact that he has been one of Boston's better players, there has also been a lot of public drama with Verdugo and there is a real chance that Boston could choose to trade him away this offseason.

Red Sox Offseason Needs

The absolute top priority for the Red Sox this offseason is starting pitching. Paxton is likely to leave this offseason and the rest of the projected starting rotation for Boston is....speculative at best especially with Chris Sale having the most variance of any player on the roster. With little in the way of pitching prospects coming soon, Breslow simply has to add some quality rotation help this offseason if the Red Sox are going to stand a chance next season.

Beyond that, adding a righty bat of note would be a welcome addition to the Red Sox lineup as they are very lefty heavy at the moment. In an ideal world, that bat would be a corner outfielder who is also a strong defender. However, this year's free agent class isn't the greatest for such bats and Boston's expected pursuit of Shohei Ohtani won't help in balancing out the lineup. It would also be nice if Boston could find an upgrade at catcher as well.

Red Sox players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft of note

Winkelman Gonzalez
Luis Perales
Brainer Bonaci
Angel Bastardo
Shane Drohan
Eddinson Paulino
Allan Castro

The Rule 5 draft has a lot of intricacies as to who is eligible for it and who isn't, but the short version is that minor leaguers are eligible if they aren't on a 40 man roster and have been in the minor leagues for 4-5 seasons. The goal is to keep teams from just stockpiling prospects indefinitely so that those guys can actually get opportunities to play. Boston has a slew of players eligible for the Rule 5 this offseason, but the above list are Red Sox guys that are on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Red Sox prospects that are eligible thereby making them notable and potentially up for being protected from it via a 40 man roster addition.

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