The Boston Red Sox will likely be very busy during the MLB offseason. That’s typically what happens when you follow up an ALCS run with a fifth place finish in the division, which is exactly what the Red Sox managed to accomplish in the 2022 season. The front office will now be tasked with finding the right blend of talent to lead this team back to the playoffs.
This is an extremely important offseason for the Red Sox, as the futures of star players Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will likely be settled on. Bogaerts is a free agent now after opting out of his deal and failing to reach an extension with the Sox, while Devers is looking for a long-term contract that would make him one of the highest paid players in the league.
Beyond these two players, the Sox have a lot of holes that need to be addressed this offseason. While they figure to be targeting many different players this offseason, there are a few that Boston should stay away from entirely. Let’s take a look at three such players who fall into that category and see why that’s the case.
3. Jeimer Candelario
Jeimer Candelario has slid under the radar early on this offseason, partly due to the other big name infielders that are hitting the market at the same time as him. Candelario has turned himself into the Detroit Tigers everyday third baseman, but didn’t exactly put together the strongest season of his career (.217 BA, 13 HR, 50 RBI, .633 OPS) which has damaged his free agent stock quite a bit.
The Red Sox have been linked to Candelario due to their need for infield help, which makes sense because Candelario can also play first base, which is a big need for Boston this offseason. But it feels like there are better options for the Sox to pursue if they truly want to land a first baseman, rather than having Candelario make the switch.
Candelario is a more natural third baseman, and signing him likely wouldn’t make Devers too happy, which is exactly the opposite of what the Sox want to do this offseason. And even then, Candelario is coming off a pretty ugly season at the plate. Candelario could help, but it doesn’t feel like he’s a target the Red Sox should be looking at this offseason.
2. Corey Kluber
The Red Sox have an infatuation with Corey Kluber for some reason, and after striking out on him in the previous two offseasons, Boston is back trying to convince Kluver to sign with them. Why they are targeting Kluber, though, doesn’t make a ton of sense, and they would be better off avoiding him altogether.
Kluber obviously isn’t the Cy Young candidate he once was, but he’s still a solid starter to have at the backend of your starting rotation. Kluber’s one season stint with the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t horrible (10-10, 4.34 ERA, 139 K, 1.21 WHIP) but it feels like the Red Sox have better options they could target in the starting pitcher market.
Boston needs help in their starting rotation, but they should be pursuing some of the top names available on the market, such as Justin Verlander or Jacob deGrom, rather than a backend guy like Kluber. Kluber is an OK addition, but he doesn’t make the Red Sox a World Series contender, and for that reason, he should be avoided for the time being.
1. Craig Kimbrel
There are several free agents who have ties with the Red Sox that the team could be looking at, and one of them is Craig Kimbrel. Boston got through the 2022 season without a true closer, and if they want to actually make it back to the playoffs, it feels like they will desperately need to address the position, which instantly makes a reunion with Kimbrel a possibility.
Kimbrel was OK with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season (6-7, 3.75 ERA, 22 SV, 72 K, 1.32 WHIP) but he eventually lost his grip on the closer role, which should really tell you all you need to know about how his season went. Kimbrel would be an upgrade over Boston’s current closer (whoever that may be) but that’s due to the fact that they don’t even have one.
The Red Sox would be wise to make Garrett Whitlock their closer, but they seem intent on making him a starter for whatever reason. That makes the closer role a big need for Boston, but it feels like Kimbrel’s best days are behind him. Boston would likely have to overpay to land him, and it feels like a reunion with Kimbrel certainly shouldn’t happen this offseason.