I was planning on writing this blog even without this news, but it looks like the Red Sox already made one great move to start the off-season by adding an additional year to manager Alex Cora's contract.
In year one all AC did was have statistically the best season in Red Sox history. It's been beaten to death, but that's let's make this narrative look like Emmett Till (which was a tragedy, yet fantastic analogy by your boy). The Red Sox won 108 games, a franchise record, and cruised through October to a 11-3 clip. His pressed all the right buttons, made all the right moves. And had the most successful rookie coaching/managing season I've ever seen.
He may have been runner-up to Manager of the Year to Bob Melvin, but make no mistakes about it, even after one season Alex Cora is regarded as one of the best managers in all of baseball.
Alex Cora added his name with the likes of Terry Francona and John Farrell to managers who won the World Series during year one in Boston. Although the two could not be any more different in the eyes of Red Sox fans. I know personally I still have lots of love for Tito, and think John Farrell was kind of an idiot who lucked into a World Series win aided by tragedy and some clutch grand slams.
What makes AC different, apart from being a former World Champion as a player, he was a rookie manager. Both Tito, and Manager John had previous managerial experience before skipping the Sox.
Under the watchful eye of AC, this 108 win World Championship team has a lot of key pieces under contract for 2019. They should be back in a position to repeat, but there are also a lot of key pieces of this magical run who's contracts are expiring, there are also players currently under team control who could be potential trade candidates. There will be changes made. Some I believe will be significant.
A team like the Red Sox, even with the luxury tax, has theoretically, all the money in the world to throw at guys, but as we've seen over time they have susceptible to the bad contract or 6. With a young core of studs, it means hard decisions are going to be made over the next few years. You can't just have a 400 million dollar pay roll.
I'm just a fan, at times I think I'm smarter than the men making the big decisions (and dollars), but I know it's not as easy as writing blank checks. That how you get yourself in trouble with the Carl Crawfords, and Pablo Sandovals of the world.
Without futher ado: My ideal Red Sox Off Season.
Let Craig Kimbrel walk in free agency and re-sign Joe Kelly to be the closer.
I'll be the first to say, perhaps Red Sox fans are too hard on Craig Kimbrel, myself included. His stupid ass pre-pitch routine does look ridiculous though. While he really was a true "white-knuckle closer" throughout most of October, he didn't blow any saves. So Dirty Craig got the job done. For the most part in his three seasons as a Boston Red Sox Kimbrel got the job done, and and did so at impressive level.
In three seasons for the Sox Craig Kimbrel pitched 184.1 innings, with a 2.44 ERA, 108 saves, and 305 strikeouts. He was an all-star every season, and finished 6th in the 2017 Cy Young voting.
Craig Kimbrel has been at times a great pitcher here, he has already at this time a border-line Hall of Fame resume, but I'd let him walk. Which is also his biggest issue: control.
The Red Sox offered Kimbrel a 1 year 17.9 million dollar qualifying offer (which he declined). Now should he walk they get a sandwich pick, which has produced talents like Jacoby Ellsbury for this team in the past.
Like I said, this team is going to have to make some really tough decisions, but this October showed that you don't need Craig Kimbrel to win a World Series. There are smarter ways to allocate resources than an aging closer with control problems.
Maybe some will disagree with that idea, but with many guys who make much more of impact on games on a daily basis than a closer, coming up on FA I don't think spending premium dollars here is smart. Especially on a spot you could replace with Joe Kelly for much cheaper, to me makes all the sense in the world. Let some national league team overpay for Craig Kimbrel and use that money to never let Mookie Betts see another team's uniform.
Joe Kelly showed flashed of brilliance this season, having a month long stretch with an ERA of 0.37. In October Kelly showed he could be the guy many baseball folks thought he could be for years with his high velocity and "stuff". Plus Joe Kelly loves it here and wants to stay, he was the only Red Sox player who showed up to be honored at the Bruins game. Joe Kelly has that Papelbon-like fire that you want out of closer, without being a piece of shit.
Joe Kelly was the Red Sox more reliable true-relief pitcher in October.
Don't Over Spend and Let Emotions Get In the Way of Nathan Eovaldi
Don't get me wrong, I love what Nathan Eovaldi did for the Red Sox this season and would love to see him come back, but at the right price.
The market in baseball has changed. Last year it took until close to the start of the season for Jake Arrieta to sign, and he only got three years.
What Eovaldi did pitching as the "rover" in October will live for down in history forever. His game 3 relief effort being his signature moment.
That being said this is a guy who's had two Tommy Johns and was used in an "interesting" way in October.
I just don't want the Red Sox to think like fans and have the emotions of what he did in October over weigh whats right. If some team wants to offer Nathan Eovaldi 75 million over 4 years I feel like you gotta say thanks for everything and we'll see you when you come back to give you a ring. I just don't feel comfortable signing Eovaldi to a long-term deal, especially after his usage in October. But for a year, or two, even if the AAV is somewhere between 14-18 million I'm cool with that. Even though C.C. ended up being fine and brilliant at times for the Yankees, Evo reminds me of 2008 C.C. with the Brewers where they knew he was a rental and pitched him on short rest to get the most out of him to win a ring. They didn't, the Sox did. I just don't wanna see the Red Sox fall in love with him and spend 100 million on the guy. I don't think they ever would ftr.
Re-Sign Steve Pearce to a one-year deal
Just because I think David Price should've been World Series MVP doesn't mean I want to see Steve Pearce go anywhere. In his short time with the Red Sox Steve Pearce had clutch hit, after clutch hit. His three homer night against the Yankees in the kill-sweep which pretty much ended the idea of the Yankees winning the division is one of my favorite games of the season.
As a right-handed bat he's been the perfect compliment to Mitch Moreland at the first base platoon. Both guys are getting up their in age and I think it's mutually benefitical to the other to have the other guy around. Plus he's a DH insurance if J.D. ever misses serious time, although given his stretching ability I think you'd like to see Pearce with a glove on.
Oh did you know Steve Pearce also grew up a Red Sox fan?
Of course you did, that and his age makes me think that both parties will work out a short-term deal that both rewards playoff Pearce for his contributions in 2018, but also for the help he could give in 2019 and maybe even 2020 (although I'm much more in favor of a year one deal). Gun to my head he comes back to Boston next season.
I love Hanley but was so wrong about letting him go, and Pearce took his role perfectly, yet again Cora seems to hit all the right buttons.
Sign Andrew Miller
Offensively there aren't too many moves the Sox need to make. I mean when you finish first in basically every stat and have everybody coming back it doesn't make too much sense to switch things up. One thing the Red Sox need is pitching, and especially left-handed relief pitching.
Andrew Miller pitched here from 2011-2014 and is why Eddie Rodriguez is a Red Sox. Although he's 33 years old and coming off a disappointing, injury filled season, Miller is both familiar with Boston (although he never really pitched for a winner, he missed most of 2013). He's gotten it done on the big stage, and fills a need the Red Sox could improve on. They had no left handed true relievers on the postseason roster. I've beaten the spend money the right way horse to death in this blog, but for the right price I'd love to see Miller back in Boston. Although I'm sure he's going to be a hot commodity in free agency so I think this signing is rather unlikely.
Extend (at-least) One Key Piece
This one is kind of ideallistic but, I mean it is the Red Sox we're talking about, not the Kansas City Royals.
I know Mookie is likely not going to resign before he gets to free agency, but I mean why not try? I'm serious. You're the Boston Red Sox. Basically can print money. Why not offer Mookie $350 million over 8 now and see if that works? In 2008 after MVP caliber years by Youk and the winner Pedroia they both got extensions.
If not maybe see if you can renegotiate J.D.'s deal? All those opt-outs man. I would love to see a way to lock him up past last season. What J.D. off the field, in helping teammates is almost more valuable than what he actually did with the bat since it impacted more people.
Idk man, the Red Sox in the past had said they took pride in developing their guys, and keeping their guys. So many homegrown players helped win this ring, it'd be nice to see them keep the band together. I know this window for sure has one more year, but with the resources this team has, with the money coming off the books, there's no reason to resort back to the last place ways after a championship like in 2014.