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Peter Abraham | On Baseball

Baseball’s talent pool is deep when the Red Sox are ready to make a splash

Scintillating Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who turns 22 in January, will be a free agent after the 2024 season.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The great irony of the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts to the Dodgers was that it was the first step in putting the team in a better financial position to trade for another superstar in a few years.

It would have been much more preferable to have structured the payroll in such a way that keeping Betts in Boston made sense. But by the time Chaim Bloom arrived on the scene, it was too late for that and he made the best of a bad situation.

Trading Betts and David Price solved the payroll issue and Bloom was able to get two high-end prospects in Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs.


Bloom then obtained Jeisson Rosario, Connor Seabold, and Jacob Wallace during the season, improving what had been a shallow pool of prospects with some smart trades. As the Sox get younger — and less expensive — they’ll have the means to be on the receiving end of a huge trade.

Andrew Friedman wasn’t thinking about Betts when he took over the baseball operations of the Dodgers in 2014. As he explained during the World Series, the idea was to be ready when the opportunity presented itself, both financially and in terms of prospect capital.

The Dodgers took a swing at signing Gerrit Cole and then Anthony Rendon. They were outbid by the Yankees for Cole and Rendon decided the Angels better fit his low-profile personality.

The Dodgers pivoted to Betts last winter and traded prospects they are unlikely to miss. They took advantage of the Sox.

Who will be sitting there when the Red Sox are ready to make a splash? Here are some very speculative possibilities:

Fernando Tatis Jr.: The scintillating Padres shortstop, who turns 22 in January, already has two years of service time. He’ll be a free agent after the 2024 season.


Sure, the Padres will want to sign him to a long-term deal. But free agency will undoubtedly be appealing. Even with Xander Bogaerts signed to a long-term deal, Tatis is a player you find room for.

Juan Soto: The Nationals slugger also is lined up for free agency after the 2024 season. The Sox can sell him on being their next Hall of Fame left fielder.

Could Juan Soto land in Boston?Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Nationals should do everything they can to keep him but it hasn’t happened yet.

Jo Adell: The talented 21-year-old Angels outfielder made his debut last season. With owner Arte Moreno in perpetual win-now mode, the Angels are a good candidate to get their finances in such a fix that trading Adell becomes a necessity.

Jesus Luzardo: The Athletics will never be able to keep the lefthander if he develops into an ace, and the signs are there that he could. At 23, Luzardo will still be in his prime when he hits free agency after the 2025 season. But there’s a better chance he’ll be traded before that.

Dustin May: He has a 2.98 ERA in two seasons and 26 games (14 starts) for the Dodgers. At 23, the righthander has a bright future and Friedman can’t keep everybody, right?

Randy Arozarena: He hit .377 with 10 home runs and 14 RBIs in 20 playoff games. Arozarena also plays with an undeniable flair. If the postseason was a prelude to his becoming a star, it also means the clock is ticking before the Rays trade him.


Kyle Lewis: The American League Rookie of the Year is an All-Star caliber outfielder who plays for a franchise (the Mariners) that is always turning over its roster. He’s somebody to keep an eye on.

Kyle Lewis is the defending American League Rookie of the Year.D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

Kumar Rocker: The Vanderbilt righthander is expected to be the first or second pick of the draft next summer. He is 14-6 with a 3.06 ERA and 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings in two seasons.

If the 6-foot-4-inch, 230-pound righthander makes a quick rise to the majors with the low-budget Pirates, the Sox will have him on their radar.

Jack Leiter: Another Vanderbilt pitcher, Leiter will be a draft-eligible sophomore after striking out 22 in 15⅔ innings as a freshman and allowing three earned runs.

The righthander doesn’t turn 21 until April and is the son of former major leaguer Al Leiter. He’s polished and could make a quick jump to the majors, especially if service-time rules are adjusted in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.