The World Series is approaching its end, and with it the baseball season is ending as well. Obviously, just because the games are coming to a close doesn’t mean that there is no more baseball to be discussed. The offseason will be here in the blink of an eye, and player movement is going to be coming all around the league. We’ve already covered some of the players the Red Sox could target, and we’ll get to plenty more of that once things really get started. For now, though, let’s just take a look at the players who could be leaving the Red Sox this winter with their contracts running out. Before we start, let me just note that minor-league free agents aren’t included here. So, guys like Bryce Brentz and Allen Craig aren’t featured here.
Of all the impending free agents who finished the year with the Red Sox, you can expect Nuñez to be the one we will hear the most about in terms of bringing him back. It makes a ton of sense considering the incredible spark he provided for the Red Sox in the second half. He likely played a little over his head in Boston, but he is a good hitter with great baserunning abilities who would certainly fit on the Red Sox roster. With the news that Dustin Pedroia will miss some time to start the year, bringing back a versatile infielder like Nuñez makes even more sense. Unfortunately, free agency is a two-way street. There will be a market for the infielder even if he’s not one of the elite free agents, and I would assume there will be a multi-year offer for that would provide a stable, everyday role. Maybe Nuñez valued his time in Boston enough to pass that up, but I’d be surprised. We’ll always have fond memories of Nuñez in the second half of 2017, but it’s probably smart to focus on other infield options for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox don’t have many major free agents coming off the books that spent the entire year in Boston, and among those that fit that bill Moreland is the most significant. He was an underwhelming signing last winter, but he outperformed most of our expectations in 2017. That being said, he was far from great at the position, and one would think this is the spot on the roster where the Red Sox can most easily upgrade. Moreland will find another job next year for a team looking for a bridge at first base, but the Red Sox need to find a bigger impact. I’d imagine there will be talks between him and the team, but he shouldn’t be anything above Plan E.
Reed’s run in Boston was interesting, even if it was short. He didn’t make a great first impression, and he had some moments where he couldn’t come through in the big situations. That being said more often than not he was able to hold down the eighth inning on a consistent basis. I can only speak for myself, but he was the setup man I felt most comfortable with at any point in the season. As a former closer and someone who has proven he can pitch in big markets like Boston and New York, Reed should have a fairly large market in free agency this year. While I’d expect the Red Sox to explore the reliever market this winter, I don’t think they’ll go for someone in Reed’s tier. He’ll get a nice deal from someone else, but it probably won’t be with Boston.
Young was one of the more frustrating members of the Red Sox in 2017, and a large section of the fanbase is probably ready for him to leave. I get that. He was a disappointment and didn’t really hit lefties, which was his number one role on the team. Of course, he filled that role tremendously just a year earlier and has for most of his career. The Red Sox will still need a fourth outfielder next year, and I don’t think you can discount Young’s relationship with the other players in the clubhouse. Bryce Brentz might be something close to Young on the field, but he’s not as close off of it. I would probably bet against Young coming back to Boston in 2018, but I think there’s a better chance than most expect.
Abad has been one of the more quietly interesting players on the Red Sox since he arrived in the summer of 2016. That doesn’t mean he’s been good, but he’s been better than many give him credit for. We’ve talked about this a few times over the course of the year, but it’s hard to determine exactly how good he was in 2017 since he was never really trusted in high-leverage spots. Either way, I don’t think it matters to the Red Sox, because I can’t see a way they’ll bring him back. They’ve never really trusted him with an important role since coming over, and even with a new manager I can’t see them committing to him on the open market.
The Red Sox needed someone to come in and save the back of their rotation when David Price went down, and Fister did that better than anyone could have expected. There were some bad moments, of course, but the good definitely outweighed the bad. His comeback season will likely get him some interest in a free agent market that is always starving for starting pitching. The Red Sox will probably talk with him this winter and hope to build up a little rotation depth, but they’ll have plenty of competition in those talks.
Speaking of unforeseen comebacks, Boyer was a minor-league signing who turned into an actual bullpen contributor. Like Fister, I would expect he pitched well enough that he will get some looks from teams around the league this offseason. Granted, he has less of a chance to get a major-league deal, but there will be interest. That being said, it probably won’t be with Boston, who has plenty of fringy right-handed relievers in their system.
Davis was brought in towards the end of the season for his speed. While the Red Sox could use a little more outfield depth, I don’t think Davis will be in their plans.
Kendrick pitched poorly in the majors and poorly in Triple-A. The Red Sox probably don’t need that back.