One month into the 2023-24 MLB offseason, Boston Red Sox fans are still waiting for the first domino to fall.
The club has yet to make a move to address any of the glaring holes on the roster, including the starting rotation and second base. Their only notable move of the offseason thus far was trading outfielder Alex Verdugo to the New York Yankees for three minor-league pitchers.
Their free-agency options are dwindling with starters Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies), Sonny Gray (St. Louis Cardinals), and Eduardo Rodriguez (Arizona Diamondbacks) off the market. They could still snag Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto and/or veteran southpaw Jordan Montgomery, but if they don't, they'll likely have to shift their attention to the trade market.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Tyler Glasnow (Tampa Bay Rays), Corbin Burnes (Milwaukee Brewers) and Shane Bieber (Cleveland Guardians), are aces who are being shopped by their respective teams this offseason. However, each are set to become free agents after the 2024 season, and chief baseball officer Craig Breslow is more interested in acquiring players with multiple years of control.
“Control is very important. It’s very valuable. It also comes at a premium,” Breslow said. “But as we think about building not just for ‘24 but beyond, control comes into play. We have to be willing to recognize that often it takes giving up real talent in order to get control back, especially controllable starting pitching.”
So, if Breslow is prioritizing controllable players, which starting pitchers and middle infielders could the Red Sox pursue on the trade market? Here are a few names to keep in mind:
MORE RED SOX
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Cease had a down 2023 season after finishing as the 2022 American League Cy Young runner-up. The soon-to-be 28-year-old posted a 4.58 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP through 33 starts (177 innings) with the lowly White Sox.
Despite the regression, Cease is the top starting pitcher on the trade market and has several clubs reportedly looking to acquire him this offseason. The Red Sox, however, have not been linked. Among the teams rumored to have interest in acquiring Cease are the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and Baltimore Orioles.
There's still a chance Boston can jump into the Cease sweepstakes. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Chicago White Sox are "pulling back" on trade talks involving Cease as they are likely "waiting to see who misses out on the coveted Japanese star [Yoshinobu Yamamoto]." The Red Sox reportedly are in the mix for Yamamoto, so if they fail to sign him, they could shift their focus to Cease or another starter on the trade market.
Edward Cabrera, RHP, Miami Marlins
The Red Sox reportedly inquired about Cabrera, a former top prospect in the Marlins organization, ahead of the 2023 trade deadline. Might they work out a deal for the young right-hander this winter?
Cabrera, 25, has filthy stuff but has struggled with his command through the first three years of his big-league career. Last season with Miami, he posted. a 4.24 ERA with a 1.445 WHIP, 118 strikeouts, and 66 walks in 22 games (20 starts).
The ace upside is there. However, Red Sox fans want a starter who can immediately slot in as the unquestioned No. 1 starter in 2024. Cabrera isn't that guy. He'd be a nice addition to the middle of the rotation, but Craig Breslow and Co. need to aim higher.
Logan Gilbert or George Kirby, RHP, Seattle Mariners
It feels unlikely the Mariners would want to part ways with either of their young, talented starting pitchers. That said, they need to bolster their lineup ahead of the 2024 season and are one of the few teams with excess starting pitching. That makes them an intriguing potential trade partner.
Gilbert, 26, is under team control through 2027. He doubled down on his breakout 2022 campaign with a 3.73 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, 189 strikeouts, and only 36 walks through 190.2 innings (32 starts). in 2023.
Kirby, 25, earned his first All-Star selection last season and finished with a 3.35 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, 172 strikeouts, and just 19 walks in 190.2 innings (31 starts). He had an MLB-best 0.9 walks per nine innings and placed eighth in AL Cy Young voting. He'll be under team control until 2028.
Either pitcher would be a massive upgrade to the Red Sox rotation. They're the pricest options on this list, but if the Red Sox are serious about adding controllable pitchers who can lead the staff for years to come, they should give Mariners president Jerry Dipoto a call.
Jonathan India, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
The second base position is below the starting rotation on the Red Sox' offseason priority list, but it should be a priority nonetheless. India has recently been the subject of trade rumors and unlike the other names mentioned herewithin, he's been linked to Boston over the last month.
India, 26, has regressed since his 2021 NL Rookie of the Year campaign but still offers some pop at the plate. The problem is his defense. Over his three MLB seasons, he's statistically been among the worst defensive second basemen in the league. Given that defensive miscues were a serious issue for the Red Sox throughout the 2023 season, it might be counterintuitive to trade for him.
He'd be an upgrade over what they currently have, but the Red Sox might want to consider one of the options below instead...
Brandon Drury, INF, Los Angeles Angels
Drury, 31, would check off multiple boxes for Boston. He's a versatile defender with experience everywhere on the infield and at both corner outfield spots. He's also a right-handed bat that can rake.
Last season with the Los Angeles Angels, Drury slashed .262/.306/.497 with 26 homers and 83 RBIs. While he hasn't been reported to be on the trade block, he could be a valuable trade chip for Anaheim and the Red Sox have the pieces to get a deal done.
The one drawback is Drury is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2024 season. Even if Breslow prefers controllable players, that shouldn't dissuade him from adding a player of Drury's caliber.
Willy Adames, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
Another way to address the second base position would be to move Trevor Story back there and trade for a shortstop. If that's the route the Red Sox take, Willy Adames is an intriguing option.
Like Story, Adames is an elite defender with some right-handed power at the plate. The 28-year-old tallied 24 homers and 80 RBIs last season in what actually was a down year for him offensively.
Forming a middle infield of Story and Adames would be the perfect way to address the defensive issues that haunted the club throughout the 2023 season.