By: Ross Sutton
Despite saying that they would go “full throttle” this offseason, the Red Sox biggest move of the winter has been trading for Tyler O’Neill. Boston could use help with their lineup and their rotation, so here are a few moves that I think they should make to become a threat in the AL East.
Sign Jordan Montgomery
The Red Sox starting rotation could use one or two more arms to solidify the group, and signing Montgomery would go a long way in doing so, as Montgomery is the most consistent starting pitcher left on the free agent market. Fangraphs projects Montgomery will receive a 5-year contract worth a total of $105M ($21M AAV), but I think he will get a little bit more than that, maybe a contract worth $22-23M per year over 5 years. I’m not sure that Montgomery will continue to be the ace that he was this past season, but I think he will be a high level starting pitcher that is worth that contract. In my opinion, Montgomery is ideally a second or third starter in a team’s rotation, but he could easily be the Red Sox top starter given Chris Sale’s recent history. Montgomery has been living in Boston this offseason, so I would not be surprised if he would be interested in signing with the Red Sox long-term.
Sign Mike Clevinger
Even if Boston sign Montgomery, they could still use another arm to round out their rotation, and I think Clevinger would be a good fit. Clevinger missed the 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and then struggled in 2022, but he quietly put together a solid 2023 season with the White Sox, posting a 118 ERA+. Fangraphs projects Clevinger to get a 2-year deal worth $24M total, and if he can be had for that number, I think the Red Sox should jump on that opportunity. If the Red Sox signed both Montgomery and Clevinger, there rotation would be as follows:
Having this group of pitchers in the starting rotation would allow the Red Sox to move Kutter Crawford and Tanner Houck to the bullpen, thus simultaneously strengthening their bullpen and rotation.
Sign Teoscar Hernandez
In my opinion, the Red Sox need to add an outfielder and a right-handed power bat to their lineup, so Teoscar Hernandez seems like a perfect fit. He would diversify their lineup that is currently full of left-handed hitters, and if the Red Sox signed him, they could start him in left field, and put newly acquired outfielder Tyler O’Neill in right field since there is much more ground to cover in Fenway’s right field than left field. Fangraphs projects Teoscar to get a 3-year deal for $45M total, and I think that’s about what he’ll get in free agency. I think that contract would present a good value to the Red Sox, as he is an above average hitter, and a better fielder than he gets credit for. I also think playing left field at Fenway would help mask some of his defensive deficiencies. Lastly, Hernandez pulls the ball at a rate higher than league average, so I think both his offensive and defensive numbers would improve if the Red Sox signed him.
Sign Whit Merrifield
The Red Sox have said that they want to add another second baseman to their roster, and I think Whit Merrifield would be a great fit, as he doesn’t strikeout much and is a solid defender. Much like Clevinger, Merrifield can be had for a fairly cheap deal, likely $10M a year or less for one or two seasons. Merrifield can also play either corner outfield position, so he offers a lot of versatility to any team that signs him. I also think Merrifield’s veteran presence would be good for Boston’s locker room. If the Red Sox added Teoscar Hernandez and Whit Merrifield to their lineup, it would look something like this:
I think this is a pretty solid lineup that would present problems for opposing pitchers. I’m not sure these moves would be enough to get the Red Sox into the playoffs, but I think it is a good group to start the year with, and if they are in the hunt when the trade deadline rolls around, they could add another player or two to get them in the playoffs.