Red Sox

MLB insider views Red Sox as a potential fit for several top free agents

Following their run to the ALCS, the Red Sox could be in play to sign big-name players.

Carlos Correa is one of the top free agents on the market this offseason. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The Red Sox could be a good home for a lot of the top MLB free agents this offseason, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

The former general manager turned insider views the Red Sox as one of the best fits for several star hitting free agents, such as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Brandon Belt.

In addition to all of those hitters, Bowden also views the Red Sox among the best fits for starting pitchers Kevin Gausman, Carlos Rodón, and closer Raisel Iglesias.

For several of the aforementioned names, they’d fill a clear need for the Red Sox. Freeman, Rizzo, and Belt are all left-handed-hitting first basemen, which would help balance their lineup while filling a position of need. Of course, Schwarber also played first base last season after getting traded to the Red Sox. But that was the first time he ever played the position as a pro and several experts expect Schwarber to spend more time as a designated hitter moving forward.

Freddie Freeman is the best first baseman on the free-agent market, but several experts expect him to re-sign with the Braves. – The Associated Press

And while all four of those players would fill an immediate need at first base, the Red Sox might not feel inclined to make the long-term commitment each are seeking with prospect Triston Casas expected to reach the big league soon. Bowden projects each of the four players to sign big-money deals this offseason (Freeman for six years, $187 million; Rizzo for four years, $80 million; Schwarber for three years, $54 million; Belt for four years, $79 million).

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The Red Sox have stated a desire to retain Schwarber, and with J.D. Martinez on the final year of his contract, Schwarber could fit into the equation long-term. Rizzo, who was in the Red Sox organization from 2007-10, was targeted by Boston at the trade deadline this past season before New York acquired him. If he’s open to signing a short-term deal, Rizzo could balance righty Bobby Dalbec at first base.

Semien fits a need at second base, too. Kiké Hernández and Christian Arroyo got the majority of the time at second last season, but with Hernández playing in center field for nearly the entire final month of the season and playoffs, that leaves just Arroyo as a potential everyday second baseman. Arroyo did have a bit of a breakthrough season, hitting .262/.324/.445 with six homers in 57 games.

The Red Sox pursued Marcus Semien when he was a free agent last year. Could he end up in Boston this time around?

Semien would give the Red Sox more certainty at second. The veteran had a career year in Toronto this past season, hitting .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs, winning a Gold Glove, and was named a finalist for the AL’s MVP. Prior to signing with the Blue Jays on a one-year deal, Semien did have talks about signing with the Red Sox last year. The 31-year-old is expected to receive a big payday as Bowden projects him to get a five-year, $148 million deal.

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Signing Correa, Seager, or Story wouldn’t fill a pressing need at shortstop, though there are a couple of ways the Red Sox could make it work. Xander Bogaerts is reportedly likely to opt out of his current deal following the 2022 season, so signing any of those three players would give the Red Sox long-term stability at the position.

Bogaerts does want to play out his career in Boston though, according to ESPN’s Joon Lee. If Bogaerts does stay for the long run, he has reportedly been open to moving positions, which would allow the Red Sox to slot in any of the free-agent shortstops if they’d like. Boston Globe MLB writer Pete Abraham suggested the Red Sox sign Correa and move Bogaerts to second, which would kill two birds with one stone.

Correa does have a past relationship with Red Sox skipper Alex Cora, with the latter serving as the former’s bench coach during the Astros’ 2017 World Series run.

Correa, Seager, and Story have all been among the best shortstops in the game in recent years as each player is a multi-time All-Star. With all three of them sitting on the right side of 30 (Correa and Seager are 27 while Story is 28), all of them will likely get extended deals. Bowden projects Correa to get a 10-year, $300 million deal. He projects Seager to get a 10-year, $320 million deal and for Story to get a seven-year, $204 million deal.

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The Red Sox will have to sign (or trade for) a starting pitcher at some point this offseason — which makes it reasonable as to why Bowden views Boston as a good fit for a pair of starting pitchers. After declining club options on Garrett Richards and Martin Perez, the Red Sox have just four pitchers who started games for them last season on their current roster (Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, and Tanner Houck). With how the team used Houck as a long-reliever, they might sign two starters to help solidify the rotation.

An easy option is to re-sign Eduardo Rodriguez, who is a free agent. The Red Sox have reportedly offered Rodriguez a multi-year deal, but the lefty also has reported interest from a couple of other teams, too.

Gausman, a 30-year-old righty, is coming off a strong season in San Francisco, going 14-6 with a 2.81 ERA to earn himself his first All-Star nod. Rodón, a 28-year-old lefty, could be a solid option, too. He went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA this past season pitching for the White Sox, which also earned him his first All-Star appearance.

Kevin Gausman could help bring some stability to the Red Sox’ rotation.

Bowden’s projected cost to acquire Gausman or Rodón is wildly different, though. Gausman is projected to get a five-year, $118 million deal while Rodón is projected to get just a one-year, $12 million deal due to his injury history.

Finally, Iglesias would help fill the Red Sox’ need at closer. Matt Barnes looked like he would be the team’s closer for the foreseeable future when his strong first half not only earned him a trip to the All-Star Game, but also earned him a contract extension. However, he was burned out by August, leaving the closing role vacant.

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The Red Sox tried several players in the closing role at the end of the season, including Adam Ottavino and Hansel Robles — who are both free agents.

In Iglesias, the Red Sox would be getting a reliever who’s consistently closed games since 2017. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, Iglesias has reached 28 saves in the last four full seasons – including a career-high 34 saves with the Angels in 2021.

Iglesias, a righty who’ll be 32 by Opening Day, is predicted by Bowden to get a three-year, $51 million deal.

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