Red Sox rumors intensify as 2 big-name free agent targets emerge

Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch during
Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch during / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

As the middle of an unusually slow offseason approaches, the Red Sox are seemingly jumping at a lot of available free agent and trade options. After two consecutive finishes in last place in the hotly competitive American League East, Boston needs to boost its rotation and outfield. It looks like more moves could be coming.

The Red Sox have emerged as finalists for Japanese pitcher Shōta Imanaga, per Jim Bowden of The Athletic. The Sox aren't alone at the top, though — they'll have to contend with the Giants, Cubs and Angels for Imanaga's signature.

The 30-year-old is a veteran and star of Nippon Professional Baseball's Yokohama BayStars. Imanaga, nicknamed "The Throwing Philosopher," is left-handed, an attribute the current starting rotation in Boston desperately needs. Imanaga is coming off a successful 2023 campaign. Along with a quality performance on the 2023 World Baseball Classic Samurai Japan team, Imanaga logged a 2.66 ERA and a career-high 188 strikeouts in NPB.

Imanaga was posted by the BayStars on Nov. 27, which means his 45-day window to sign in North America is closing at a rapid pace. According to Alex Spier of The Boston Globe, Imanaga planned a trip stateside to meet with interested clubs after the New Year.

But Boston needs more than starting pitching. After trading Alex Verdugo to the rival Yankees this offseason, the Sox are in need of another outfielder to fill in the gaps.

The Red Sox have emerged as contenders for outfielder and slugger Jorge Soler. While Soler doesn't fit in as well in right field as fellow free agent Teoscar Hernandez could, he's still a fair option for Fenway Park's pastures.

The Red Sox are reportedly targeting Shōta Imanaga and Jorge Soler.

Soler is not as prolific a defender as Hernandez, but he wields a significantly more powerful bat. Soler could be a welcome right-handed addition in the Red Sox's lefty-heavy top-of-the-order.

Soler could also be a designated hitter candidate for the Sox. It'd be more likely Soler would play left field and Masataka Yoshida would shift to designated hitter, as Soler has the stronger arm.

The 2023-24 offseason is finally ticking up in terms of excitement (beyond the signing of Shohei Ohtani, of course,) and Red Sox fans have high expectations. Signing Imanaga and a quality defensive outfielder with a bat to back it up could be the answer to getting the ball rolling.

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