1To Start Things Off
Although the Boston Red Sox will likely head in a different direction, these steps would make the Sox the team to beat come 2018.
2Trade Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes for Manny Machado and Zach Britton
Reason why this works for both clubs: The Baltimore Orioles are in a funk. They don’t quite want to rebuild, but they also aren’t really armed to contend. They also aren’t likely to re-sign Machado to a lucrative long-term contract. With this trade, they give up two players who are free agents at the end of the season, not to mention saving money to allocate elsewhere.
Bogaerts has played third before and Tim Beckham could shift over to the hot corner if necessary. For the Red Sox, they acquire a new shortstop (Yes, Machado would shift back to his natural position) and acquire a veteran lefty to bolster a bullpen that clearly needed a few healthier pieces. I’m aware that Machado and the Red Sox have had previous tensions, but so had David Price prior to signing with the ball club. That bad blood would be put aside and Machado would shine alongside Rafael Devers on the left side of the infield.
Side Note: (Both Machado and Bogaerts are Scott Boras clients and Machado is only 4 months older than Xander.)
3Sign Carlos Santana to play First/DH
The sexy signing to make is Julio Daniel (JD) Martinez or Eric Hosmer, but I think this would be the smart signing. Santana is a catcher by trade, but hasn’t played the position since 2014. He would be a first baseman/DH or corner outfielder when necessary. Santana comes with postseason experience, has pop, and patience at the plate. He’s also a switch hitter, adding to his versatility. The best part of all is that he would come at a decent price in comparison to the aforementioned highly ranked free agents. The man can even lead off for a lineup. His versatility in the lineup along with his pop and veteran presence make him a good potential signing and fit.
The insurance of an extra starting pitcher helps with the depth in case of injury. The starting rotation will likely be Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright. Price will be returning to the rotation after working out of the bullpen for the latter half of the season and the playoffs. Porcello will look to bounce back from a thump of a season. Wright will be back after missing the entire 2017 season due to injury. With question marks throughout, the Sox need to add a quality arm so any of those low risk, high reward type players would have to get a long look.
5Get Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith healthy
Craig Kimbrel was a monster in the back end of the pen, but the rest of the bullpen was iffy at times. Addison Reed was scarcely used after being acquired from the New York Mets, Kelly was hurt and inconsistent, and Barnes was always placed in high leverage situations, only to struggle. With Thornburg returning for 2018 and Smith showing signs of being elite, the Sox could bolster a bullpen that challenges the best in the big leagues.
6Rusney Castillo is this year’s Chris Young
Chris Young is gone and so a replacement is needed. Enter Rusney Castillo. Signed through the 2020 season, Boston may as well test out what they have in the minor league system. Castillo played well, hitting .314 with 15 homeruns, 43 RBI’s and 14 stolen bases in only 87 games. Those numbers could translate well if he’s used sparingly and in situational hitting as a rotational fourth outfielder.
The Sox don’t splurge on Martinez or Hosmer, but they sign a quality bat and veteran in Santana. The trade everyone expects of Stanton to the Red Sox doesn’t come to fruition, but they acquire another star player in Machado. The pitching staff is bolstered through paying pitchers on the bargain bin as well as getting a few quality arms back to full health. The return of Castillo should be an upgrade over the production of Young in 2016. This team with the balance in the lineup and the expected health of the pitching staff could wind up celebrating in Disney World come 2018.
1st Mookie Betts, Right Field
2nd Andrew Benintendi, Left Field
3rd Manny Machado, Shortstop
4th Rafael Devers, Third Base
5th Carlos Santana, First Base
6th Hanley Ramirez, Designated Hitter
7th Dustin Pedroia, Second Base
8th Christian Vazquez, Catcher
9th Jackie Bradley Jr., Center Field
Bench: Brock Holt, Rusney Castillo, Sandy Leon, Tzu-Wei Lin
- Steven Wright
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