Hurley: What, exactly, are the Red Sox doing this winter?


BOSTON — There are, undoubtedly, several ways to build a contending baseball team. Big spending is not always — or even usually — the best way to build a championship club, so some patience in the winter can be rewarded the following summer and fall.

Yet even with that understanding, it’s extremely difficult if not borderline impossible to understand what, exactly, the Boston Red Sox are doing this offseason.

Thus far, the team has spent its time showing some faint public interest in players, only for those players to almost immediately sign elsewhere. 

The Red Sox were building some “momentum” toward re-signing Xander Bogaerts … but ultimately offered him five fewer years and 125 million fewer dollars than the Padres did. Multiple reporters passing along nuggets that the Red Sox were confident they’d be keeping their homegrown star were misled, to say the least.

A week later, the Red Sox were “seriously considering” adding shortstop Dansby Swanson via free agency, whatever that means. What it didn’t mean was a plan to actually sign the player. Swanson signed for seven years and $177 million with the Cubs — a team that was actually “seriously considering” signing the shortstop. 

Then on Saturday, after a report said the Red Sox were “among teams with interest” in J.D. Martinez, Boston stood by idly while their now-former DH signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers.

Interest, interest, interest. And no players.

It’s in line with what happened earlier in the offseason, when the Red Sox reportedly had Jose Abreu as their “No. 1 outside target.” But the Red Sox reportedly offered him between $15 million and $20 million less than what he got from the Astros — a team that showed exactly how it went about securing outside targets.

The Red Sox also reportedly tried to sign Tommy Kahnle, but they were outbid by the Yankees.

Outside of that, the Red Sox did offer a fair amount of money to Andrew Heaney, but he chose to take less money to play for the Rangers. Zach Eflin also used the Red Sox’ offer to negotiate a deal to play for the Rays.

The Red Sox have made some additions, like reliever Chris Martin, closer Kenley Jansen, and outfielder Masataka Yoshida. But for a team coming off a last-place finish in a hyper-competitive division, that obviously isn’t nearly enough to change the outlook on the upcoming season.

Dating back to the trade deadline, the Red Sox have lost their catcher, their shortstop, and their designated hitter. They may still lose multiple members of their starting rotation. (But they did add a closer. Which at least shows there’s still optimism in the front office that there will be wins in need of saving.)

There’s still time to build a roster, sure. But this trend of showing “interest” in either big name free agents or players from last year’s roster just before those players sign elsewhere is a bit confounding. If the Red Sox were actually interested in any of them, surely they’d have been able to land some of them. (They showed they’re capable of this with the Yoshida negotiations, in which the Red Sox might have outbid the rest of MLB by about double.)

Instead, there seems to be a concerted effort to let it be known that they’re trying to sign players. It feels like a massive waste of time and energy, and it won’t help win any baseball games next season.



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