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2024 Boston Red Sox Season Preview

Joshua Linnehan

It’s sad to say but the hype for Red Sox baseball to return in March is at an all-time low. Fans have good reason to be upset.

Owner John Henry has been extremely cheap this offseason despite bringing in new GM Craig Breslow, and chairman Tom Werner saying they would go “full throttle in every possible way” this offseason. They missed out on many free agents that were reportedly in contact with Boston, including highly-touted Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and even the generational talent Shohei Ohtani.

As of the time this article was written, free agent starter Jordan Montgomery still hasn’t signed with a team. The Red Sox are still one of the few teams interested in him, but as of March 19th, 2024, Boston has only spent roughly over $50 million on new players this offseason. Tickets for this season at Fenway Park are as low as $10 on the MLB.com website, further illustrating the front offices struggles to get fans excited about the current product on the field. 

The best aspect of this Sox’s team in 2024 is still their offense, as they were just outside the top 10 in runs scored last season, placing 11th. While there’s plenty of familiar faces returning this season, they did lose some key players this offseason. Their first big loss was trading outfielder Alex Verdugo to their archrival, the New York Yankees, for three right handed pitchers. Greg Weissert is the only one that has MLB experience, pitching 31.1 innings for the Yankees the past two seasons. They also let go of their designated hitter, Justin Turner, who went to another division rival in the Toronto Blue Jays. At 39 years old, he signed a one year, $13 million contract in Toronto, as he was a standout hitter and teammate for Boston last season. Adam Duvall also left town to rejoin the Atlanta Braves, he hit 21 home runs in just 92 games last season.

There’s still a ton of fire power in this offensive unit, with the corner infielders Rafael Devers and Triston Casas being the standouts for this season.

Devers has easily been their best and most reliable hitter the past three seasons, sporting a .873 OPS from 2021-2023 and averaging 33 home runs a season.

Casas, at just 24 years old, was unstoppable in the second half of 2023. He posted a 1.034 OPS and 15 home runs in 54 games. He’s primed to be one of the best first baseman in baseball by season’s end.

Masataka Yoshida is coming off a solid rookie campaign, but should be even better for Boston as he takes over the DH role. Jarren Duran was electric until a toe injury cut his season short in August. The speedster will look to build off his best season as Verdugo’s replacement in right field. It’s great to see shortstop Trevor Story finally healthy and getting reps this Spring Training. If he can go back to Rockies level Story, it will be huge for this unit.

Their only additions were via trade. They acquired outfielder Tyler O’Neill from the St. Louis Cardinals, and second baseman Vaughn Grissom for the Atlanta Braves. Both players show high upside but Grissom will start the year on the IL with a groin injury. Second baseman Emmanuel Valdez will take over for Grissom on Opening Day. Lastly, top prospect Ceddanne Rafaela looks to take over the center field spot on Opening Day as he’s been lights out this Spring. Catcher Connor Wong has also been amazing this spring with a .433 batting average. 

Once again, the main issue for this Red Sox roster is their starting rotation. Starters had a 4.68 ERA last season, which was 22nd in the league. The front office has done little to nothing to improve it either. They even traded Chris Sale in the Grissom deal, as his value continued to decrease. The one big addition was Lucas Giolito, as he signed to a two year, $38.5 million contract. Unfortunately, he suffered a UCL injury a couple weeks ago, and will miss the entire 2024 season.

This means the keys to the rotation will be handed to 24 year old Brayan Bello. He’s the youngest Opening Day starter for Boston in 29 years, and he has a fresh six year, $55 million contract that locks him up until 2029.

Outside of Bello, Kutter Crawford could take a leap and be the #2 option. In his last 14 starts, he held his opponents to a .198 batting average and put on ten pounds of muscle this offseason.

Nick Pivetta is coming off his best season in Boston, thanks to a transition to the bullpen. His 11.5 K/9 is impressive, hopefully it carries over as a starter.

To round out the rotation are two young arms, Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock. They both experienced ups and downs the past three seasons, but it’s undeniable they are both better in the bullpen. Whitlock has a 4.76 career ERA as a starter, with a 2.65 ERA as a reliever. Houck has a 4.17 career ERA as a starter, with a 2.68 ERA as a reliever. 

Their bullpen was strong last season, and should be again in 2024. The three headed monster of Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, and Josh Winckowski are all returning. My only concern is that Jansen and Martin are only getting older. Jansen will turn 37 on September 30th, and Martin is entering his age 38 season. They were both lockdown in 2023, but their natural decline is bound to happen at any point.

Boston also signed former A’s and White Sox reliever, Liam Hendriks. He was once one of the best relievers in baseball, recording 75 saves in 2021-22. He was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of the 2022 season, but heroically beat cancer and returned to pitch on May 29th, 2023. Now he’s currently dealing with Tommy John surgery that could last the whole 2024 season. He’s signed to a two-year, $10 million deal so he will be ready for 2025. 

As a diehard Red Sox fan, I always look to see the bright spots in this team. I’ll admit, this preview makes it really hard to find them. This team currently suffers from the same problems they had last season. They had a plethora of hitters and an elite backend of the bullpen, but their rotation held them back. It feels like that will be the team’s identity this season as well, thanks to the lack of spending by the front office.

Not to mention, the competition in the AL East is at an all-time high. The Yankees added superstar Juan Soto, the Baltimore Orioles traded for a new ace in Corbin Burnes, the Tampa Bay Rays will always be in the hunt for a playoff spot, and the Blue Jays have a great lineup. I’ve been optimistic about this team in the past, but I don’t see this team improving in any way. The Red Sox are bound to finish last place in their division for the third consecutive season, which will be the first time in franchise history.