For the past twenty or so years, we as Red Sox fans have seen many highs and lows. Our most recent roller coaster ride was the past two seasons. The 2018 team won an unbelievable 108 games and the World Series. Mookie Betts won the MVP and J.D. Martinez was so good he won two Silver Slugger Awards. Outside of the 2013 team, the 2018 season was probably my favorite as a fan. Then 2019 happened. The team started the season on the Struggle Bus and never really seemed to get in a groove. Sprinkle in some injuries to Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi and bad vibes from the locker room, the team won 84 games, missed the playoffs, and in the offseason traded our dear Mookie Betts and David Price. Fun times. However, I thought it would be a fun exercise to take a shot at what the roster would look like in 2024. Why 2024 you ask? Well, unless the Red Sox re-signor extend Rafael Devers and/or Eduardo Rodriguez, they will be in new uniforms in 2024. So here are three steps the Red Sox should do to prepare for the 2024 season.
Re-sign or extend Rafael Devers
This goal should be the most important goal from a roster construction standpoint. With the money the team ‘saved’ in “The Trade’, they should use it to extend Rafael Devers. It is doubtful he will ever reach the heights of a Mookie Betts but, like Xander Bogaerts, he is a glue-guy that anyone would want to have him on their team. I am hoping the team will do the right thing, as they did with Bogaerts, but the loss of Mookie has wavered my faith a bit. The Red Sox does have depth at the hot corner and, to be honest, there is still a bit of doubt on how long Devers will be able to stick at the position. The team could shift Bobby Dalbec back to third and honestly wouldn’t be a bad idea. Dalbec has a cannon for an arm and the move to first or left field would be a bit of a waste in that respect.
Development of young talent
We all know the farm system is a bit bleak, with only Triston Casas and Jeter Downs making the cut on most top prospect lists. However, the Red Sox have added some interesting talent in recent drafts and international signing periods. Gilberto Jimenez has 80 grade speed with above average defense and is going to be fun to watch in the field when he is manning centerfield. The bat still needs a bit more refining but he already has great bat to ball skills. Nick Decker should slide in nicely in left field, if the team has moved on from Andrew Benintendi. Decker is your typical slugger type and could move to DH if Benintendi remains on the team. As for pitching, there are some intriguing pitchers that could be mid-rotation types. The only starter we know that will still be on the roster is Chris Sale. So after him, I could see a free-agent signing but also Thad Ward, Bryan Mata, Jay Groome, and Chris Murphy. This is the biggest hurdle for the Red Sox because Clay Buchholz was the last homegrown starter to really contribute to the team.
Retaining bench guys
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry - John Steinbeck “Of Mice and Men”
No matter how much we plan, something will go wrong. Murphy’s law. Players will underperform or get injured. So every team needs to have reliable bench players. Honestly, I think the Washington Nationals have done a great job in recent years by signing reliable veterans. However, if we take a look at the minors, we already have some interesting bench options. In 2024, I could see Michael Chavis, CJ Chatham, and Jarren Duran as good bats off the bench or defensive replacements later in games. I could see Tanner Houck and Durbin Feltman in the seventh and eight inning roles while Darwinzon Hernandez closes out games.
Building a World Series contending team is a multi-piece puzzle. The hard truth is the Red Sox will need to rely on free agent pitching if they hope to make it back to the show. Maybe some of the recent draft picks will turn into reliable players or the team makes a trade that improves the starting pitching landscape. However, looking at some of the free agent pitchers the next season is well...not great Bob. James Paxton, Robbie Ray, and Trevor Bauer are the best three next year. However, if the Red Sox can re-sign Devers and improve their pitching development, they just might have a chance to be competitive.