With Craig Breslow taking over as chief baseball officer following Chaim Bloom’s dismissal, the Boston Red Sox hope to regain relevance this offseason. However, with the ever-growing force that is the American League East, Boston has an uphill battle to avoid a third straight last-place division finish.
Here’s one trade and one signing the Red Sox should make this winter.
Trade: Acquire Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco
After 10 players combined to post the fourth-fewest wins above replacement at the position among teams last season (0.0), Boston intends to prioritize adding a second baseman this offseason. Speaking to reporters last week, Breslow indicated that he’d prefer to use the trade market to find his solution and is targeting a “strong defensive second baseman,” per The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Jen McCaffrey.
Although Polanco doesn’t necessarily fit that description, he’s a clear upgrade, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Minnesota “received increased trade interest” at last week’s winter meetings centered around the switch-hitting infielder. With top shortstop prospect Marcelo Mayer expected to be promoted to the majors as early as late 2024, Boston doesn’t need a long-term answer at second base, as the role will eventually belong to Trevor Story. Since Polanco is set to make $10.5 million next season and has a $12 million club option for 2025, he could be the Red Sox’s most suitable option timeline-wise.
Despite injuries limiting him to 80 games last season, Polanco was still an above-average hitter, posting a 118 wRC+ (MLB average is 100) with a .789 OPS, 14 home runs and 48 RBI. Boston surely wouldn’t mind sacrificing some defense as long as the 30-year-old’s bat remains consistent, especially considering its second basemen ranked 22nd in combined OPS in 2023 (.663).
Signing: Ink LHP Jordan Montgomery
Boston’s biggest need this offseason is unquestionably starting pitching, given that it finished 2023 with the fifth-worst team ERA (4.52) and WHIP (1.34) in the AL. While the Red Sox are in contention for several top arms on the market, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports they might “have a slight edge” to sign Montgomery. The left-hander, who posted a 3.20 ERA and 3.56 FIP for the Cardinals and Rangers last season, has been living in Boston this offseason after his wife began her dermatology residency at a local hospital.
It’s unclear whether that development will impact Montgomery’s free-agent process, but having him spend an offseason in Boston should only aid the Red Sox in negotiations. If Montgomery is comfortable and can envision himself living in the city, it won’t be difficult to sell him on playing at Fenway Park, a venue where he has a 2.42 ERA and 1.21 WHIP dating back to 2021.
Throughout his career, Montgomery has continuously limited damage and eaten innings, which is all one can hope for from a starting pitcher. Montgomery has finished with a sub-3.90 ERA every season of his career, and he has surpassed the 157-inning threshold in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 188.2 innings pitched last season. Boston would greatly benefit from adding such a reliable arm to its rotation after having just two starters toss more than 110 innings in 2023.
Source: Yard Baker