The Boston Red Sox’s 2023 season will end disappointingly, and there will be change beyond the front office following the club’s decision to fire Chaim Bloom as chief baseball officer. A new front office will need to make changes if it expects the club to compete next year in the AL East.
Blake Snell, LHP, San Diego Padres
No matter who is hired to lead the organization’s baseball operations department, there will be pressure for the Red Sox to make a big splash in free agency this offseason, and the team’s best course for doing so may be in adding an arm. Brayan Bello has shown the potential to be a future ace of the club for years to come, but there’s no reason to expect him to shoulder that load on his own.
Snell is reaching free agency at an opportune time, with questions facing the other top starters on the market and coming off what will likely be his second career Cy Young Award (having won the AL award in 2018 with the Rays). The left-hander turns 31 in December and has proven success in both leagues. A nine-figure contract is not out of the question here.
Nick Ahmed, SS, Free Agent
Boston spent most of the 2023 season struggling to find a consistent solution at shortstop. Enrique Hernandez struggled offensively and defensively before being traded. Trevor Story rushed back from injury and returned to the position for the season’s final months, but questions remain about his arm and whether he should be moved to second base full time. The future at the position, Marcelo Mayer, saw his 2023 prematurely end to injury. With less than 200 plate appearances at Double-A, it’s unlikely he’s rushed to the majors.
Ahmed, a Western Massachusetts native, was a fixture in the Diamondbacks lineup until the team released him in early September. The 33-year-old defensive specialist is a .234/.288/.376 hitter for his career, but he wouldn’t be a target for Boston for his bat.
Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays
There is a mutual option in Merrifield’s contract for the 2024 season, valued at $18M. In all likelihood, the Blue Jays will decline their side. They may want to bring Merrifield back, but they could look to do so at a reduced rate. That could open the door for Merrifield to test the free-agent market and land elsewhere, potentially in Boston, who could have an opening in the outfield if the club trades someone (Alex Verdugo or Jarren Duran) to address another need.
He may no longer be the same “Two-Hit Whit” who made three All-Star Games, but Merrifield is still a useful piece for a team hoping to contend. The 34-year-old holds a .284/.330/.421 line for his career and has been reliable since his debut in 2016, with the only seasons he missed receiving 550+ plate appearances being the pandemic-shortened 2020 and his rookie campaign.