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Let’s stop with the Red Sox’ two-year window talk

There is no window in Boston baseball

American League Division Series Game Three: Houston Astros v. Boston Red Sox

While my main focus in sports has become baseball, and specifically the Red Sox, as the years have gone by, I remain relatively plugged in to the Boston sports scene. I still watch just about every Celtics game, and begrudgingly watch plenty of NFL football every Sunday. I enjoy hockey too, though admittedly that fandom has dwindled as I’ve gotten older for whatever reason. Either way, this winter with both the Celtics and Patriots playing at an extremely high level has me thinking a lot about windows of contention in sports. Down in Foxboro, the Patriots are nearing the end of an absurd window of domination. Eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, it’s all going to come crashing down. Meanwhile, the Celtics are beginning what looks like it should be a long window of contention if things break as we expect. As Boston sports fans, we are watching opposite ends of the contention cycle, and on a macro level it’s pretty fascinating.

As things so often go for me, these thoughts tie back to the Red Sox and their own window of contention. Over this winter specifically, though the conversation likely started last year, we are hearing about their window getting smaller and smaller. Some of that talk has come from the team, and a whole lot of speculation has come from fans and those who write about the team. Hell, I’ve talked about this window myself, for reasons I don’t even know. The general consensus seems to be that Boston is currently in a two-year window to win a championship. It makes some sense, given that’s how long Chris Sale is under contract and he is clearly the anchor of the pitching staff. That being said, the notion of the Red Sox having a window, no less one as short as two years, is poppycock.

Really, the reasoning behind this notion being false is pretty straightforward. They’re the freaking Red Sox, full stop. But, I suppose I’ll go into a little more detail about why this is a dumb way of thinking since that is kind of my job.

American League Division Series Game Three: Houston Astros v. Boston Red Sox

The biggest reason can be found all over the lineup, as the Red Sox have assembled an enviable young core. You’ll hear a lot about Boston’s diminishing farm system, and it has certainly taken a hit in recent years, but a big reason for that hit is the graduation of so many top prospects. Mookie Betts is one of the best players in baseball. Andrew Benintendi should be a lineup stalwart for the next decade. Rafael Devers has absurd talent and was completely unfazed in his first taste of major-league action. Xander Bogaerts has a better track record than he’s given credit for and we all see more potential beyond that. Jackie Bradley Jr. is an elite defensive player who as shown huge flashes at the plate. Christian Vazquez showed real strides with his bat last year and looks like the everyday catcher some (read: me) never thought he’d be. All of these players are already really, really good players and at the oldest they are at the start of their prime. Perhaps it’s unrealistic to think all of them will stay in Boston forever, but if they are good enough they will stay.

Things are a little more dicy on the pitching side of things, but it’s not as bad as you may think. Chris Sale has two more years left on his deal, but one has to think the Red Sox are actively seeking ways to keep him longer than that. Drew Pomeranz is going to be a free agent next year, and while it’s far from a given he’ll be back he’s got enough talent to justify and extension or re-sign. David Price may or may not be back after 2018 with his opt-out looming, but when healthy he’s still as talented as ever. Eduardo Rodriguez is the young piece who still needs to find consistency but has shown flashes to suggest he is going to be a midrotation arm for a long time. Beyond that, the Red Sox have talented pitchers coming up like Jason Groome and Tanner Houck who could possibly be top-of-the-rotation arms if everything breaks right. They also have a bevy of pitchers who could slide into the back of a rotation.

The most important part of the equation, though, is the fact that this is the Red Sox and they make an obscene amount of money. There is essentially no stopping the organization from raking in the cash, and there is no excuse for it not to be put back into the roster. What I outlined above certainly included some best-case scenarios and holes will emerge on the roster year after year. Fortunately, the Red Sox owner’s can afford to pay to fix said holes, and they’ve shown a willingness to do just that. It’s not just filling holes, either. This team can afford to keep any player they want to, and there’s no excuse for them not to keep Betts and Sale around at the very least.

Given the number of talented players making way less than they would on the open market currently suiting up for the Red Sox, it’s true that they are in a great position to contend for the next couple of years. Things will get trickier and more expensive down the road. That doesn’t mean their window of contention is closing, though. Baseball is not basketball and football. There is no salary cap (for now) and teams like the Red Sox can always keep their top talent while supplementing the roster around them. Obviously, some seasons are going to be better than others and there are times like this when the roster and financials break just right. That being said, we can cut it out with the two-year window nonsense. It’s always summer for the Red Sox, and the fresh air should always be flowing through the house.