On a day when the Red Sox introduced a new closer, their president and CEO was left to talk about the departure of an anchor.
After the news conference to introduce Kenley Jansen, Sam Kennedy discussed the departure of Xander Bogaerts on an 11-year, $280 million free agent deal with the Padres. Kennedy acknowledged that the Sox weren’t prepared to match the length of San Diego’s commitment to the four-time All-Star.
“We’ve not done an 11-year contract, but we have an obligation to explore any and all avenues to bring more championships to Boston,” said Kennedy. “I realize in this particular case, we were not willing to go to that territory. We own that decision. Any criticism or disappointment that comes with it, we own that.”
Kennedy acknowledged the difficulty both for members of the Red Sox and fans of the team in seeing the departure of a franchise pillar and a player associated with the last two championships, in 2013 (as a 21-year-old call-up) and 2018.
“It’s really hard when you lose a player like Xander, but it’s even harder when you lose a person like Xander,” said Kennedy. “Do you wish you could have homegrown stars from start to finish? Of course you do. But unfortunately that’s not the reality of this business all the time.
“We have a job to do making these very difficult decisions. It’s part of the job. It goes with the territory. So we thank him. We wish him well and he’ll have a special place in Red Sox history.”
With Bogaerts gone, how do the Red Sox view the future of Rafael Devers, another homegrown star who, at 26, is one year from free agency?
“We’ll keep doing what I just said we need to do, which is making the right decisions,” said Kennedy.
Armed for battle?
With Bogaerts gone, does Trevor Story — who’d spent his entire career at shortstop with the Rockies before playing second base for the Red Sox last season in order to join Bogaerts in the middle infield — have the arm to return to his former position?
Story, who landed on the injured list with the Rockies in 2021 because of right elbow inflammation, saw his arm strength plummet from middle of the pack (82.3-mile-per-hour average, according to MLB.com) to near the bottom of the big leagues in 2021 (79.1 m.p.h.). His arm strength also graded low among second basemen in 2022.
Yet chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom downplayed concerns about Story’s arm, suggesting that he’d shown the ability to make all necessary throws in 2022.
“It’s certainly something we’ve talked about, something we’re aware of. Trevor’s aware of it. It’s obviously not a secret,” said Bloom. “One, we are optimistic that wherever he’s playing, that we’re going to be in a better position with him. Just now having built that relationship, that trust with him, being able to take an entire offseason to get in front of this. But two, his range is just so incredible. We saw, he can make throws on the run. When he has to put a little something on the ball, he can. I just think wherever we put him, he’s going to get to so many balls that it’ll all play.”
Bloom said that Story’s range should make up for any limitations in his arm strength.
“You can only throw a guy out if you get to the baseball first,” said Bloom. “He’s as good at that as anybody.”
Trades on deck?
With most of the big-name free agents off the board, Bloom said that the Sox see trades as an increasingly likely path forward in addressing needs, which feature at least an up-the-middle player (at shortstop, second base, or in center field), a righthanded bat, and a starting pitcher. “I think [a trade is a likelier route], just by virtue of obviously how many players have signed. We expected that if we’re able to do everything we wanted to do this offseason it would be a mix of the two,” said Bloom. “Hopefully we will see the trade market start to come into focus a little bit more as everybody takes a breath from the free agent frenzy we’ve been experiencing.” Bloom said the Sox are open to having both Story and Kiké Hernández in the middle infield and making a move for a center fielder … To clear a 40-man roster spot for Jansen, the Red Sox designated recently acquired utilityman Hoy Park (added in a trade with the Pirates for lefthander Inmer Lobo in late November) for assignment.
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.