The Boston Red Sox ended their season on Monday with a 5-4 loss to the Houston Astros. Just two days later, President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski, announced that John Farrell will not be returning as manager next season.
Strong returning core
The managerial change, however, will likely be the one of the few significant changes coming into the 2018 season. Many of Boston’s key players are young and under team control until 2019. Luckily for Red Sox fans, this means most of their favorite players are sticking around for (at least) another season.
“I mean, if you look around here and look at the names, we have a lot of guys coming back,” said ace Chris Sale. “A lot of the guys that carried this team are young guys that are going to be here for awhile. It’s hard not to be optimistic about this team for a long time.”
The list of young returnees includes: catcher Christian Vazquez, third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, rightfielder Mookie Betts, leftfielder Andrew Benintendi and centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Among the returning pitchers for Boston are Sale, closer Craig Kimbrel, and lefty David Price. Price was only able to start 11 games this season due to injury. It is expected that he will return to the starting rotation come 2018.
When speaking with reporters at Fenway on Wednesday, Dombrowski alluded to the additions that the Sox are hoping to acquire in the offseason: a first baseman and a big hitter.
First baseman Mitch Moreland was only signed to a one-year deal back in 2016. He had an average season this year, but he could not provide the team with the power they needed to have a successful postseason.
The Sox have been struggling offensively since the retirement of David Ortiz. While it’s unlikely that any player could fill shoes as big as Papi’s, Dombrowski is hoping to find a player that can contribute to the team in a similar fashion.
“We have three young outfielders that are all good. We’ve got a young third baseman, a young shortstop,” Dombrowski said. “Second base, we know [Dustin Pedroia]. We’ve got young catchers.
“You’ve got first base and DH, then, left at that point. Hanley is one of the guys that we look forward to having a bigger year for us from an offensive perspective. But really, some of that is gonna come from an internal perspective. And then you can look to add somebody from outside to help you somewhere. But we need to score more runs.”
Lack of leadership
In addition to being the team’s offensive cornerstone, David Ortiz also acted as the team’s leader prior to his 2016 retirement. The Sox were lacking strong leadership this season, and it was obvious. Will a veteran player finally step up and take the reins?