Tomase: There's one word to sum up the Red Sox offseason


Every sports fan knows the feeling. Your team trails by 20 in the fourth quarter and you start frantically doing the math -- divvying up the remaining time in football to game out a potential go-ahead possession with 45 seconds left, or hoping for multiple stops and 3-pointers in basketball.

But try as you might, the game is lost, and you can't will a comeback into reality.

That's the best way I can describe the Red Sox offseason. Chaim Bloom and the front office began the winter hoping to add seven to nine players. They're currently at four (or net three counting the loss of Xander Bogaerts), and Tuesday's news that the Giants had agreed to a massive $350 million contract with shortstop Carlos Correa pretty much put a period and carriage return on free agency.

What the 2023 Red Sox lineup and rotation currently looks like

Bloom himself admitted on Tuesday that the team will pivot to the trade market to fill most of its remaining needs, but that will require parting with prospects, which he hasn't proven willing to do. It's what happens when the free agency cupboard is picked bare while you're fussing in the kitchen with some ramen.

Nearly 60 free agents have come off the board already, and the Red Sox have landed four of them: relievers Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, and Joely Rodriguez, and Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

That's not nearly enough for a last-place club that has lost not only Bogaerts, but right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, DH J.D. Martinez, and catcher Christian Vazquez since the trade deadline.

The Red Sox boasted one of the worst starting ERAs in baseball last year and they haven't added any starters, instead hoping that Chris Sale loses his bike. They waved goodbye to a franchise shortstop and might replace him with starting center fielder Kiké Hernández. They cut ties with an All-Star DH in Martinez and as of now would probably give the job to Eric Hosmer, who just hit 20 homers ... in the last two seasons combined.

They thought they had a couple of these holes filled, but they badly underbid on first baseman Jose Abreu, losing him to the Astros by nearly $20 million, and they watched the thoroughly mediocre Zach Eflin take their offer and shop it to his hometown Rays. It's enough to suggest players no longer view Boston as a destination, given its current combination of poor play and poor pay, a notion Bloom disputed on Tuesday.

Regardless, potential solutions keep landing elsewhere. Purported trade target Sean Murphy was dealt to the 101-win Braves. Right-hander Chris Bassitt signed with the division-rival Blue Jays. Even slugging catcher Mike Zunino, a possible stopgap, signed for one year and $6 million with the Guardians.

Watching the Red Sox introduce Jansen on Tuesday was deflating and depressing. By rights, an All-Star closer should be the final piece. Instead, he felt like the only guy they could get, a belief reinforced by Jansen's multiple admissions that he only knew he'd signed with the Red Sox when his agent told him.

In a normal offseason, he'd be a key mid-range signing. In this one, he's probably going to be the headliner. That's not how any of us envisioned a winter that began with over $100 million to spend and a guarantee that the Red Sox would be players for everybody. Instead, they've watched the top, middle, and even bottom of the market pretty much sign anywhere else.

And so now they pivot to the trade market to fill the four or five holes that remain on the roster. I'd love to say I believe they'll fill them all, but the clock is ticking on the offseason and the scoreboard isn't lying.

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