SAN DIEGO — Every offseason is filled with a long list of non-moves that serve as a backdrop to the fraction that get completed. So it is natural that a Red Sox team with a wealth of needs — chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said that the club entered the offseason anticipating the addition of seven to nine big leaguers — is exploring a wide range of options, including some obvious fits (pitcher after pitcher after pitcher) and some less obvious.
In the latter category: According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox had extensive conversations with the Brewers about second baseman Kolten Wong before the 32-year-old was dealt to the Mariners in exchange for outfielder/DH Jesse Winker and infielder Abraham Toro.
The Sox were intrigued by what they considered the low acquisition cost of a veteran coming off two strong offensive seasons in Milwaukee (.262/.337/.349 with 29 homers and 91 extra-base hits combined) and, despite a significant downturn in his publicly available defensive metrics in 2022, strong defense over the course of his career.
Of course, the potential fit of Wong with the Sox is curious. Were the Sox trying to acquire Wong so they could move Trevor Story to short and lay the groundwork for the departure of Xander Bogaerts? A major league source suggested that the team’s pursuit of Wong was not driven by plans to tap out on the Bogaerts market, that it did not represent an either/or line that would have signaled the end of the longtime Sox star’s time in Boston.
“It 100 percent would not have taken (the Red Sox) out of the market for (Bogaerts),” said the source.
Bloom declined to speak specifically about a trade for Wong, but added that the Sox haven’t pursued anything that rule out Bogaerts re-signing.
“Without addressing anything specifically, there’s nothing we’ve looked at, explored, pursued, any of that — even kicked the tires on — that would close the door with Bogey,” said Bloom.
Certainly, Wong could have offered the Sox middle-infield protection if Bogaerts does leave. But in a world where the Sox re-sign Bogaerts, how might Wong have fit?
The Sox were open to the idea of having middle-infield surplus, given that they view Wong as a good player with potentially complementary skills to a Bogaerts/Story double-play tandem given he’s a lefthanded hitter. Even as the team has holes to fill, the Sox want to explore opportunities to add high-end depth after seeing their second base production crater in 2022 due to injuries to Story and Christian Arroyo.
Moreover, given the Sox saw it as a low trade cost, the team could have acquired Wong as a fallback plan for Bogaerts and then, if Bogaerts re-signed, explore flipping Wong to another team later in the offseason. The Mariners obviously saw Wong as a fit, and an industry source said the Dodgers also explored a trade for him.
While the Red Sox’ interest in Wong did not come to fruition, it did point to the different paths the team might take this offseason while waiting for Bogaerts, further demonstrating the team’s openness to the possibility of having Story as a shortstop should Bogaerts leave.
Alex Speier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.