Coming off a 100 plus win season and a World Series title, the Red Sox are feeling good in the beginning of the offseason. But as it happens after every season, the Sox are facing some changes.
Kimbrel’s numbers in the regular season were quite good as well. He had a 2.74 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 62 and a third innings pitched. However, he did have control issues in the regular season too. He walked 4.5 batters per nine innings pitched. So, all in all, Kimbrel was a mixed bag. But he did help the Sox make it to the World Series and pull off the win.
Joe Kelly as largely the opposite. He had a worse regular season but came through for Boston in the post season. In the regular season, Kelly had an ERA of 4.39, but come playoff time he improved to 0.79. He really turned it around when it counted for the Sox. He also had excellent control, walking no batters in the playoffs in 11 and 1/3 innings.
So, it’s clear that the Red Sox have some moves to make this offseason. But filing in the bullpen might not be their first priority.
What Should the Sox Focus on This Offseason?
It’s true that the free agency of Kimbrel and Kelly is problematic for the Sox. Having a weak bullpen is no joke in the MLB. So, Boston certainly needs to figure out how they can fill out their relief and closing pitcher slots. But nothing is more important than starting pitching. And after the 2019 season, starters David Price and Rick Porcello become free agents.
Losing two starting pitchers that have been productive team leaders could potentially be catastrophic for Boston. So, the focus this offseason may be on finding some starting pitching that can fill in the gaps when Price and Porcello potentially leave in a year.
It could be argued that it is too soon to be thinking about the 2020 season but the last thing the Sox want is to get stuck with a poor rotation, even if it is more than a year away. It’s possible that the Sox may be looking more into picking up starting pitchers than relievers this offseason.
Can the Sox Hold On To Their Pitchers?
Free agency does not mean that Kimbrel and Kelly have to leave. Nor does it mean that we won’t see Price and Porcello on the mound after this next season. But these four pitchers are in demand. Kimbrel and Kelly are both just over 30 years old and in the prime of their careers. After a World Series victory and good performances from both of them, teams across the MLB may be looking to sign them. So, the Sox may have to offer some big money to keep the on the roster. The same goes for Price and Porcello the following year.
The question is, where does Boston want to spend its money? The easy answer is starting pitching, but the Red Sox had such a strong team across the board this year that perhaps the management isn’t too worried about a pitcher here or there. We may not know for a couple months. But come spring training, the Boston roster may look quite different.