There’s plenty of reasons for pessimism in Boston around the baseball team. Mookie Betts is gone, their World Series winning GM and manager from 2018 are both gone and Chris Sale’s health status is very murky. Still, you shouldn’t give the Red Sox a pass on the season. They may have lost their best player this offseason, but that shouldn’t give them an excuse to miss the postseason in 2020.Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom echoed this sentiment in a press conference following the Mookie Betts trade. “We still think there’s plenty of talent here to compete.”, Bloom said.
Even after the trade, the Red Sox still have the 5th highest payroll in baseball and more than a few All-Star caliber players. On top of J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, who were both All-Stars last season, Rafael Devers had a fantastic year and was one of the biggest All-Star snubs in 2019. Andrew Benintendi just barely missed out on being named to the team in 2018, coming in 2nd in the MLB’s “Final Vote” process to the Mariners’ Jean Segura. Those four players should be capable of carrying the load offensively with the help of Christian Vazquez, who’s coming off a career year, Michael Chavis, who put together a very promising rookie season, and Alex Verdugo, who should be expected to make significant contributions in what will likely to be his first season as an every day player if he can overcome his back ailment.
The Red Sox have plenty to compete at the plate, but pitching will be another story. The health of Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi could ultimately swing the season, but there’s other names to keep an eye on. Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid 2019 season and could look to build on that in 2020. A new pitching coach might be able to get more out of some of the existing players in the organization. If the Red Sox can get Sale, Eovaldi and Rodriguez healthy for opening day, it’s not a bad front end of the rotation.
The Red Sox may be a bit chaotic right now, but they’re far from a lost cause. This team is still flush with talent and anything short of a competitive season would be a failure. Fans are clearly taking the loss of their superstar outfielder hard, but it doesn’t mean the Red Sox season is over before it starts. If the Nationals can win the championship without Bryce Harper, the Red Sox are more than capable of just merely making the postseason without Betts.
Photo: (Gail Burton – AP Photo)