Top Five Red Sox Offseason Acquisitions of the 21st Century
The Boston Red Sox have been the most successful franchise of the 21st century with four World Series Championships. They have been an organization that’s shown they’re not afraid to spend money in the winter and it’s shown on the field. Realistically, this list could have been upwards of 10 big name players. However, the names listed below came out on top as the Red Sox five best offseason acquisitions of the past 20 years.
Honorable Mention Koji Uehara: One year, $4.75 Million (Dec. 6, 2012)
Coming off a last place finish in 2012, the new-look Red Sox were prepared to have Joel Hanrahan closing games for them in 2013 before he went down in early May. Next up was Andrew Bailey who only appeared in 30 games before finding his way to the shelf in mid-July. Next up came Koji Uehara.
Uehara went on to appear in 73 games and throwing a career-high 74.1 innings in 2013 while recording 21 saves. The veteran’s age 34 season proved to be one of the best runs by a Red Sox player in recent memory only blowing three saves en route to a World Series Championship. He posted a 1.03 ERA, 0.565 WHIP, 12.2 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. As a result, Uehara received votes for the American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award that season.
5. J.D. Martinez: Five years, $110 Million (Feb. 26, 2018)
Although this contract is still being played out and J.D. Martinez is coming off the worst season of his career, the immediate impact this signing made was evident to all. While Mookie Betts was the American League MVP in 2018, the case could be made that Martinez was the team’s MVP during the 2018 World Series Championship run. This signing finally solidified the hole left behind after David Ortiz retired in 2016 and helped take the pressure off the aforementioned Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers. Collectively, the average of these players jumped from .273 in 2017 to .291 the following season after Martinez was inserted into the lineup.
In 2018 Martinez slashed .330/.402/.629 which translated to an OPS of 1.031. In addition, he hit 43 home runs and led all of baseball in RBI with 130. Martinez earned his second career All-Star bid this season and went on to win two Silver Slugger Awards for designated hitter and outfield. Additionally, he finished fourth in AL MVP voting.
4. Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell from the Florida Marlins (Nov. 24, 2005)
A season removed from winning their first World Series in 86 years, the Red Sox were still in pursuit of talent to bolster the roster. Meanwhile, the then Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) were headed towards a rebuild. The Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey Garcia and Jesus Delgado to the Marlins for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota. Beckett, who was 25 at the time, was the centerpiece of Boston’s return. He was coming off a 15-8 season in which he posted a 3.38 ERA with 166 strikeouts. However, Lowell wasn’t viewed as much more than a throw-in after completing his worst season to that point. Little did the Marlins or Red Sox know, he had some of the best baseball of his career ahead of him.
Beckett wasn’t a consistent ace during his six full seasons in Boston posting a record of 84-47 with a cumulative ERA of 4.05. He was an integral part of the 2007 team that went on to win their second World Series of the century. Beckett finished the season second in Cy Young Award voting and went on to win the ALCS MVP after recording two wins in as many starts with 18 strikeouts against the Cleveland Indians.
Lowell earned his fourth and final All-Star appearance in 2007 as he finished the season batting .324 with 21 home runs and 120 RBI. He became the 2007 World Series MVP after going 6-for-15 (.400) with a home run, three doubles, three walks and four RBI against the Colorado Rockies.
3. Curt Schilling from the Arizona Diamondbacks (Nov. 28, 2003)
After helping the Arizona Diamondbacks dethrone the New York Yankees in 2001, the Red Sox targeted Curt Schilling as a player to help close the gap between them and the Bombers. In 2003, the Yankees beat Boston in the eleventh inning of Game Seven of the ALCS. Theo Epstein, who was the General Manager at the time, was going to do whatever he could to overcome the division rivals. Schilling had a down year in 2003 after recording 22 and 23 wins the previous two seasons and being the runner up to the National League Cy Young Award both years.
Schilling pitched four seasons in Boston and led all of baseball in wins with a 21-6 record in 2004. Also, he once again the runner up to the Cy Young Award in ’04. The righty helped Boston win both the 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships recording a win in each round of those playoffs. His only loss came in Game One of the 2004 ALCS; he quickly redeemed himself, with the infamous “bloody sock” game in Game Six. Furthermore, he is widely regarded as one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time. During his time with the Red Sox, he posted a 6-1 record with a 2.68 ERA.
2. Manny Ramirez: Eight years, $160 Million (Dec. 12, 2000)
The Red Sox signing Manny Ramirez in 2000 was the beginning of their rise to power in 2004 and 2007. Ramirez was not only the best hitter on the market, but realistically one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time. During his seven full seasons in Cleveland, he batted .315 with a 1.005 OPS while averaging 41 homes runs per 162 games.
In the same offseason, Epstein acquired Schilling, he also had a deal in place to flip Ramirez to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez. The deal was ultimately nixed which led to the Yankees landing “A-Rod”. Boston would have sent Ramirez and Jon Lester to Texas had they been able to successfully restructure Rodriguez’s contract. Epstein can thank the Player’s Association for not allowing that trade to go through at the time.
After bringing on Ortiz prior to 2003, the two combined for one of the best middle-of-the-order combinations baseball has ever seen. In seven full seasons with Boston, he slashed .313/.412/.594 good for a 1.006 OPS. Ramirez also hit at least 33 homes runs in each season except for 2007 and was a part of the core that helped win the ’04 and ’07 World Series Championships. Additionally, Ramirez didn’t disappoint when he made it to the postseason; he combined to hit .355 with a 1.106 OPS in each of those World Series runs.
1. David Ortiz: One year, $1.25 Million (Jan. 22, 2003)
Perhaps the most obvious choice for this list was the signing of Ortiz at a mere $1.25 million contract. At the recommendation of Pedro Martinez, Boston took a flyer on Ortiz who had been an average hitter with inconsistent playing time with the Minnesota Twins. Ortiz turned into one of the best clutch hitters of all time. He ultimately turned a one-year deal into a 14-year tenure in Boston.
Ortiz has authored some of the most memorable moments for the Boston Red Sox over the past two decades. He was the key factor in the team’s 2004 comeback in the ALCS with walk-offs in Games Four and Five. The lefty also stuck around past the ’07 title unlike the rest of their core. In fact, he even went on to win the 2013 World Series MVP at the age of 37. Ortiz batted .668/.760/1.188 in that series good enough for an OPS of 1.948. In addition, he managed to record 11 hits despite being walked eight times by the St. Louis Cardinals.
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