After another disappointing exit in the divisional round, the Red Sox decided to cut ties with manager John Farrell after five seasons. Farrell’s tenure in Boston began with the team claiming its third World Series title in nine years in 2013. But after, the team finished in last place consecutive seasons in 2014 and 2015, and then fell in the divisional round the next two seasons, winning just one game in the process. While relieving Farrell of his duties may be for the better, there are still some glaring holes that this team needs to fill if they want to make a serious run at the title next year. The first, of course, is finding a manager to replace Farrell.
Names such as Jason Varitek, Alex Cora, Ron Gardenhire and Brad Ausmus have been mentioned as possible replacements. Among those, Gardenhire’s resume stands out the most. He won six division titles in 13 years at the helm in Minnesota and by far has the most experience. Varitek is intriguing as well. Despite having no experience at the position, Varitek captained the Red Sox for eight years, and truly exemplified the role of a leader. That alone makes him an option, especially considering how there was a leadership void in the clubhouse last year. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Sox end up going with Gardenhire. Varitek is still part of the organization, working as a special assistant for the team, but having a manager with a lot experience may be better for a team with such a young core. Either way, finding a manager is only the first move the Red Sox needs to make.
The Red Sox Rotation needs another right handed pitcher. Don’t expect Stephen Wright to return to 2016 form, when he posted a career best 13-6 record with a 3.33 earned run average. Rick Porcello took a huge step back after winning the Cy Young in 2016, so his consistency going into next year will be a huge question mark as well. Righties such as Jake Arrieta, Johnny Cueto and Yu Darvish top the free agency market as the premier guys. As is well known among executives and fans, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on guys who are now in their early 30s. Adding one of these guys could really bolster the Sox, and also break up a pitching staff that had too many lefties in it last year.
To cut down on the number of starting left-handers, the Sox must trade one of them away. Chris Sale is definitely safe, and David Price should be as well (though it’ll be interesting to see what he does with his option). After a stellar campaign, Drew Pomeranz appears to be part of the equation too, leaving Eduardo Rodriguez as the odd man out. The 24-year-old flashed signs of potential this year, but the walks continue to be an issue. There is still upside to him though, and the Sox should take advantage of that and try to package him in a deal. With first baseman Mitch Moreland only a one-year contract, maybe the Sox will try to upgrade at that position and include Rodriguez in a deal for one, if they can’t land Eric Hosmer in free agency. Either way, they need to find a more consistent hitter than Moreland. Hosmer is a good fit, coming off a year where he nearly drove in 100 runs, on top of compiling 25 home runs and a 318. batting average.
Dombrowski has plenty of options, and possibly making these moves is only the start. With a history of making big splashes in the free agent market, expect some noise to be made this offseason.