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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Red Sox pre-season plans develop woefully

Kellyn Taylor
Illustration Kellyn Taylor

The Boston Red Sox finished the 2023 season with a losing record of 78-84. Following their 2018 World Series win, the team has done poorly, coming in last in the AL East in both 2022 and 2023. 

So, this offseason, they made some changes to the roster and coaching staff.

The Sox fired their pitching coach, Dave Bush, on Nov. 21, 2023, and hired former reliever pitcher Andrew Bailey to take his place. Not long after, on Dec. 30, left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale was traded to the Atlanta Braves for infielder Vaughn Grissom. 

Sale was a key player in the Sox’s 2018 World Series win, which led to him signing a $145 million, five-year extension in March 2019. However, he frequently missed games due to injuries—sacrificing the entire 2020 season to Tommy John surgery and recovery, where a stretched ligament in the elbow is replaced by a new tendon (relatively common for pitchers), as well as weeks in 2022 to a fractured pinky finger, followed by a fractured wrist. Sale logged only 298.1 innings during his five-year contract, in comparison to an average of more than 900 for the top MLB starting pitchers during a five year period, with around 185 innings per season. 

To replace Sale’s starting pitcher role, the Red Sox acquired Lucas Giolito from free agency. His contract will pay $18 million this season, a $19 million player option for next season, and has conditional options for 2026. While he was one of the best pitchers in the American League from 2019-2021, he led the league in home runs allowed with 41 last season. Giolito spent the 2023 season bouncing between a few different teams, and the instability most likely contributed to his poorer stats.

Unfortunately, both Grissom and Giolito are expected to miss at least part of the 2024 regular season—the infielder healing a groin strain and the pitcher recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn UCL. Giolito thankfully avoided a full Tommy John surgery which would have put him out much longer. His exact recovery timeline is not yet clear, but he plans to be back on the mound next season. 

“I’m very confident that if I stick with the protocol, the training and medical staff here is excellent,” Giolito said to Boston.com.

The Sox must rely on their younger bullpen to complete a rotation that has just one veteran, Nick Pivetta, following Giolito’s injury. Between Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck, Garrett Whitlock, Josh Winckowski and Cooper Criswell, and newly acquired Brayan Bello, Red Sox Manager Alex Cora looks to designate starters versus relievers and round out his starting five. If Bello can develop more consistency, his six-year contract and lethal changeup should help bolster Boston’s rotation. 

Aside from pitchers, there are several Red Sox hitters to keep an eye out for this season: DH Masataka Yoshida and first baseman Triston Casas begin their second years on the team, shortstop Trevor Story, his third, and outfielder Jarren Duran, his fourth. Prospects Ceddanne Rafaela and Marcelo Mayer have played well in spring training games and are vying for spots on the 2024 roster. 

Elite third baseman Rafael Devers, arguably the face of the Red Sox roster, and Casas made ESPN’s top 100 players list on Mar. 11, at spots 30 and 65, respectively. However, they are the only two to make the list from Boston and the team will face an uphill battle this season, struggling with a young and somewhat inexperienced roster.

“I’m not saying that the team is not OK right now, but they need to be conscious of what are the [weaknesses] and what we need,” Devers said to ESPN during a conversation about roster improvements the franchise should have made during the offseason.

As of Mar. 17, the Red Sox boast a spring training record of 13-9 and according to the sports betting odds and analysis site The Lines, “can best be described as ‘fine’”.

Opening day is April 9th against the Baltimore Orioles, launching the first Red Sox series of the 2024 season at Fenway Park.

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About the Contributor
Anna Knepley, Assistant Sports Editor
Anna Knepley (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She currently serves as the assistant sports editor. Outside of the Beacon, she can be found hanging out with friends, exploring the city and writing for the CPLA newsletter. 

Comments (1)

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  • K

    Kevin L / Mar 21, 2024 at 5:18 pm

    While Mr. Absentee O’Henry was busy playing soccer monopoly overseas, Slime Bloom was busy dismantling a winning team.
    What’s to get excited about?

    Bad enough they ruined the team spirit (and the lineup)… but we also lost Jerry Remy; and Eck is no longer around.

    I thank the sports Gods the Bruins are still fun (although Sweeney & Neely do not impress).