Superficially, the signing of Nathan Eovaldi indicated that the Red Sox had been smiling at the players of all those World Series winners by keeping things intact. Steve Pearce is back and is now one of the heroes of the other postseason.
But do not fool yourself, the commitment of Eovaldi was the first step Sox took to clarify what will lead to a really, really changed season in a year's time.
Let's go! Do not know why he opened his mouth like that, but whatever … you're still my husband !! —- —- —- @redsox done well !! # welcomebacknasty #stillascrubonfortnitefool
Eovaldi represents the chance to put someone at the top of the rotation, a skill that is still one of the most sought-after items on the team. See what the Yankees did to get James Paxton or how much Patrick Corbin got from the Nationals. And why this is so important to the Red Sox is because of what they may have left after the 2019 season. Your ace, Chris Sale, is supposed to become a free agent, and with an unsteady shoulder, the idea of giving crazy years and money to the Lefty is anything but a breeze. Rick Porcello is also awake and may leave this team with another spin hole.
Without Sale and Porcello, the Red Sox would rely on David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez at the top of their rotation, taking the calculated risk for Eovaldi.
There is no immediate jump start supported by minors on the horizon and the idea of relying on a free agent class consisting of Justin Verlander, Rich Hill, Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Gerrit Cole and Michael Wacha just to be expensive but pretty risky.
So you have Eovaldi as failsafe for the start. It's not that easy when it comes to Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez is also going in line to win the vacant agency after the next season.
While Bogaerts did not yet have Nolan Arenado's Free-Agent 2020, payday was not so different, considering how relatively young (27 years old) will be the shortstop on market entry. And with Mookie Betts' contract after # 20, it's clear that there are only so many of those over $ 250 million contracts.
The Red Sox could talk to Bogaerts about this offseason, but the guess is they appreciate it too much with this win-now team. There is certainly no logical substitute for shortstop (as a player of everyday life), neither in the minors nor in the Major League.
The problem is that there are no obvious solutions when Bogaerts leaves. Not only are we talking about the position, but also its presence in the middle of the order needs to be replaced. This is basically the # 4 or # 5 world champion. When the Yankees replaced Derek Jeter by targeting Didi Gregorious, there was no expectation that he would become the offensive threat that became the shortstop. (Gregorious, by the way, will be the other high-priced shortstop on the free-agent market after this coming season.)
The challenge for the Red Sox will be to do what Brian Cashman could do for the Yankees and give up someone like Shane Greene to get one of the best American League shortstops. It can happen.
The biggest challenge will undoubtedly be the situation with J.D. Be Martinez.
If there is no extension in this offseason, there is a high probability that Martinez will reject his contract after 2019. His salary actually drops when the five-year contract expires. Dave Dombrowski said he was in no hurry to restructure the Sluggers business by citing medical protection (Martinez's already existing Lisfranc footbands problems in the crosshair) as a reason to wait things up. The designated hitter / outfielder has said that he has no interest in signing a contract as soon as the season starts.
However, this is the riskiest move for the Red Sox.
If they leave Martinez to a freelance agency, he will most likely find a better deal than the last three years under the current contract. And to replace everything that the right-hitter stands for will be nearly impossible. There is Martinez's effect on the lineup (as David Ortiz recently reminded). There is the obvious production. And there's the influence he had on some of the most important parts of this batting order.
Does Paul Goldschmidt fit better? It would not seem that way. And there are none of the other free agents, like Jose Abreu, Khris Davis or Justin Smoak. Good, but not Martinez.
The Red Sox should therefore enjoy the quite relaxed and relaxed off-season that takes place this time. Storm clouds are coming.
connected: David Ortiz reminds us of the importance of J.D. Martinez