Welcome to the 2017 Offseason Oracle, a brief series in which your favorite BP Boston authors will give their educated guesses as to how the Red Sox’s offseason will shake down. Every author will answer the following four questions and give a projected Opening Day roster. Will we all be wrong? Yep! Should it be fun? Yes to that, too. Enjoy!
We’re doing Red Sox offseason predictions all week long so and I’m thrilled to be going first. The early bird gets the most angry comments. We’re tackling some of the bigger questions that the Red Sox face in an offseason that people seem to be split on what to expect. Let’s get to it:
How will the Red Sox replace David Ortiz’s production?:
I spent a fair amount of time trying to be cute and Billy Beane my way into an answer that was clever and cost-efficient, and it just proved to be a waste of time. It’s going to be Edwin Encarnación. He’s always seemed like the most obvious replacement, and this just doesn’t seem like a move that the team will risk overthinking. Shouts to Hanley Ramirez for learning to play first base and giving the team the flexibility to take a chance on getting a few more good years out of Encarnacion, if that’s the direction they want to take. The Very Fun Paul Goldschmidt Rumors have been just that, but this has and will continue to feel like Encarnacion’s job to lose. Additionally, Yoan Moncada shouldn’t strike out in every single major league at bat next season so that should also help.
How will the Red Sox bolster the bullpen?:
Bullpens are going to be ALL the rage next season. Carson Smith is going to be on your TV a lot next summer. Presuming that he’s on track to recover from Tommy John surgery, getting Smith back will be more than likely the biggest addition to the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel ruined my nail beds on more than one occasion last season, but he’s still Craig Kimbrel, so the team has a closer. It’s easy to see the team trying to go for that second late-inning power arm, but *lots of Red Sox fans shudder* Joe Kelly showed some promise in that role at the end of last year. I suspect the team comes into spring training looking to build internally before being more active at the trading deadline.
Will the Red Sox add to the rotation? If so, how?:
The last two answers have been relatively boring, so I’ll go out and predict something I’ve been too scared to openly say because Twitter Ridicule frightens me: I think this is where the team makes a surprisingly large move. I think the team expects a little better from Price and a little worse from Porcello, which basically puts them right where they were last season. The team got reliable pitching from the rotation for most of the second half of the season, but when you have the means to make a good rotation great, why not? Dave Dombrowski’s love of big trades is well documented and the team presumably didn’t bring him in to hoard prospects. I think Dombrowski revisits a trade for Jose Quintana or Carlos Carrasco, which leads me to…
Will the Red Sox trade more elite prospects? If so, for what/who?:
They sure will! Mauricio Dubon and Michael Kopech both had big showings in the Arizona Fall League, which is just exceptional timing considering the MLB Winter Meetings are only a few weeks away. I think a trade involving Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr and two of Devers/Kopech/Groome/Dubon are going to Chicago or Cleveland. We’ll just say for the purpose of the exercise that they go to Chicago for Quintana.
Biggest Surprise: Greg Holland