This off-season the Boston Red Sox were noticeably quiet, making only one acquisition and letting four players walk. In the rush of big-name extensions leading up to and entering the season’s start, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts agreed to a seven-year, $132 million contract extension, and that is perhaps the most exciting move made by Boston. This extension quietly shores up a sizable chunk of the roster and makes Bogaerts the seventh Red Sox starter to sign through the 2020 season.
Xander Bogaerts Extension Shores up Roster
The other six Red Sox starters that will remain with the team for the next couple of seasons are J.D. Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, Christian Vazquez, and pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale.
Recent arrivals Martinez and Eovaldi are two of Boston’s latest notable acquisitions. Martinez was picked up during last year’s sluggish free agent market and had a career year with the Red Sox in 2018. Eovaldi’s high-quality postseason performance warranted the Red Sox to extend the pitcher a longer and more lucrative contract.
Price and Sale joined the Red Sox in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Both have been instrumental parts of Boston’s rotation, and their salaries reflect that. Pitching is not Boston’s strong suit, but with these two guys anchoring the front of the rotation, manager Alex Cora should not have to worry.
Pedroia and Vazquez are the biggest question marks signed through 2020. Pedroia’s health is always a concern but if managed right he has a lot to contribute to the team throughout the remainder of his contract. The Red Sox roster used to consist of three catchers. Sandy Leon was designated for assignment in March, but Vazquez still has to compete with Blake Swihart.
Players Hitting Free Agency
Mookie Betts, the biggest name on Boston’s payroll, has made clear that he wants to enter the free agent market. While admitting he would like to stay Boston, Betts cannot help but notice the hundreds of million-dollar deals being awarded to players his inferior. Even though Betts is likely to cost the Red Sox a pretty penny, it is a price they can afford. Betts hits arbitration in 2020 before heading to free agency the following year, pending a contract extension.
The third arm in Boston’s rotation, Rick Porcello, joins Martinez, Price, and soon Sale as the few players making over $20 million a year on the roster. Porcello, like Dallas Keuchel, did this year, will be entering the free agent market on his age-31 season. For pitchers seeking big money contracts, that is the wrong side of 30, and the Red Sox could definitely find cheaper, if less reliable options, to replace Porcello.
The other two players approaching free agency are first baseman Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce. Both players make almost identical salaries, Moreland at $6.5 million a year and Pearce at $6.25 million a year, and both will reach free agency at the end of the current season. Fellow infielder Eduardo Nuñez is also going to enter free agency after the current season. With many of the infielder’s contracts coming to a close, a good performance in 2019 could mean a good paycheck for 2020.
Players Hitting Arbitration
The Red Sox also have two groups of players ready to hit arbitration in 2020. Superstar outfielder Andrew Benintendi and regular star outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. are also both looking to increase their paychecks. Benintendi, who is set to make $717,500 in 2019, is surely due for a pay raise. With all the attention focusing on Betts’ coming entry to free agency, Benintendi’s likely sizable pay bump is sure to cost the Red Sox money. Bradley Jr. is already the sixth-highest-paid position player on the team. The Red Sox may need to squeeze some value out of the center field position to pay for Benintendi and Betts. Bradley simply may be the odd man out in the coming seasons.
Boston’s young stars, third baseman Rafael Devers and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, are approaching arbitration and pre-arbitration in 2020. Devers has spent a lot of time early in 2019 as the team’s starting third baseman. Although the jury is still out, he has plenty of potential to be a stud. Rodriguez has quickly cemented his position in Boston’s rotation. As a recurring member of the rotation, he is going to receive a pay increase as well.
With the few moves made by Alex Cora prior to the 2019 season, the manager made clear he wants to not break what’s already working. Many Red Sox stars have signed contracts through the 2020 season. Boston’s fans are likely to see some familiar faces on the mound and the field for the foreseeable future. Fan favorites such as Bogaerts, Martinez, Sale, and likely Betts will continue their careers in Boston chasing yet another World Series championship.
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