I’ll cut right to the chase. The 2023 Boston Red Sox season kinda sucks. Sure, there have been some bright spots, but they’ve been few and far between. But I’m not here to talk to you about 2023. I want to look ahead. Not too far, just one year. Let’s talk about the 2024 Boston Red Sox.
When Chaim Bloom was hired after the 2019 season, he was given a five-year deal to take him through 2024. Regardless of what you think of Bloom’s tenure so far, it seems clear that the intent of the ownership group was always to give Bloom those full five years to turn the Red Sox into a consistent contender.
I’m not here to litigate what moves Bloom has or hasn’t made these last four years. I’m here to simply take stock of where we are in that supposed “Five Year Plan”. Can Chaim Bloom create a contender by next year? I think he just might.
Going into 2024, the Sox have, in my opinion, six position players locked in. Triston Casas will be at first base, Trevor Story will be at shortstop, Rafael Devers will be at third, Connor Wong will be catching, Jarren Duran will be in the outfield, and Masa Yoshida will either be in left or DHing. This leaves second base, and either two outfield spots or one outfield spot and a DH.
Justin Turner could very well re-sign and hop right back in that DH spot and I’m sure nobody would kick up a fuss. If that does happen, Yoshida would return to left. As for second base, the deadline day trade for Luis Urías was made in hopes of him being a stopgap until top prospect Marcelo Mayer arrives on the scene. While that isn’t exactly imminent (It could be either in late 2024 or early 2025), if Urías finds the bat he had in 21 and 22, he will function as a perfectly adequate 8 or 9 hitter on this roster.
Which now brings us to that final outfield spot. In what is probably the second biggest question of 2024 (We’ll get to the first in a moment), the Sox have found themselves with an Alex Verdugo problem. I don’t intend to speculate on the inner workings of Alex’s relationships here, but it’s clearly just not working. I don’t really foresee a way Alex finds himself on the Red Sox’ Opening Day 2024 roster. The position player free-agent class is unbelievably grim, so Bloom will have to get creative with the solution here. Could Cedanne Rafaela come up and stick? Maybe. Regardless, if Chaim can figure this one out, the 2024 offense looks very strong.
As for the bullpen, I actually think they’re in quite a good spot. One or two shrewd moves and the pen should continue to be a strength.
Now for the big one. The starting rotation. Going into 2024, the Sox’ rotation will look something like Brayan Bello, Chris Sale(?), James Paxton if he accepts the qualifying offer, and some combination of Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, Garrett Whitlock, and Nick Pivetta. Not great. And this is where the true test for Bloom will be. We know the Sox have inquired about controllable young starters (as has basically every team). Could a trade for someone like Dylan Cease be in the cards? It’s certainly a possibility. Could the Red Sox dip into the free-agent market and snag someone like Julio Urías, Aaron Nola, or Jordan Montgomery? Probably! But I believe the best solution lies across the Pacific.
25-year-old Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the perfect fit for these Red Sox. His age lines up unbelievably well with the core Bloom has created, he’ll be cheaper than basically any other pitcher with his ability, and oh yeah, he is nasty. Yamamato will likely claim the NPB pitching triple crown for the third season in a row this year. He won Pacific League MVP each of the last two seasons. And what’s even better? He was teammates with our dear Masataka Yoshida.
Competition will be stiff for Yamamato, but it is the exact move we have been waiting for Chaim Bloom to make. A Yamamoto signing combined with either a trade or another FA signing would not just make the 2024 Red Sox immediate contenders for the AL East, it would make them contenders for the World Series. And ya know what? I think it’s gonna happen.