Baseball’s Division Series start Saturday, and all four have an element of Red Sox-related intrigue. How could they not? The Sox let go of so many good players in recent years that it was inevitable they would pop up all over the postseason.
You can’t quite build a full lineup of former Sox players who are still competing for a championship, but it’s close.
Here’s a look at the best-of-five matchups focusing on what may be of interest to Sox fans:
▪ Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers
NESN should do a pregame show for this series.
As you may have heard, the Dodgers have four members of the 2018 Red Sox championship team: Mookie Betts, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, and J.D. Martinez. They also have Kiké Hernández and of course another former Red Sox champion in manager Dave Roberts.
Brasier is a great story. The Sox justifiably released the 36-year-old righthander in May. He has since appeared in 39 games for Los Angeles and allowed three earned runs, gaining the trust of the coaching staff.
Arizona is managed by former Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, and Massachusetts native and former Red Sox executive Mike Hazen is the team’s general manager.
Hazen’s wife, Nicole, died 14 months ago of brain cancer. He is raising their four sons and has built a team loaded with young talent.
Hazen’s staff includes former Red Sox execs Allard Baird, Jason McLeod, Craig Shipley, and Amiel Sawdaye.
The Diamondbacks also have outfielder Tommy Pham, who was with the Sox last season after being obtained at the trade deadline.
▪ Phillies vs. Braves
There’s lots to unpack in this series, too.
Philadelphia is run by Dave Dombrowski, the architect of the 2018 Red Sox who was fired less than a year after that team won the World Series. He is 13-6 in playoff games with the Phillies over the last two seasons. Is that good? It seems good.
Kyle Schwarber, who sparked the Red Sox to the ALCS in 2021, has hit 99 home runs the last two seasons for the Phillies, counting the postseason. They don’t much care that he has hit .207 and struck out 415 times.
The Phillies also have former Sox relievers Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm. Both have long hair, and Kimbrel is sporting a ponytail.
Philadelphia GM Sam Fuld, a New Hampshire native, is a potential candidate to replace Chaim Bloom. He was interviewed to manage the Red Sox before they brought Alex Cora back for the 2021 season.
The Braves, descendants of the Boston Braves, have only tenuous Red Sox connections. Backup outfielder Kevin Pillar played 30 games for the 2020 Red Sox. Reliever Colin McHugh signed with the Sox before that season, then opted out after the pandemic hit.
The Phillies made it to the World Series as a wild card team last season. They won’t be intimidated in the slightest by the 104-win Braves.
▪ Twins vs. Astros
Former Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez helped the Astros win the World Series last season, and now he’s with the Twins. Ryan Jeffers started both games of their Wild Card series, however.
The Twins are managed by Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli, who played for the Sox in 2009. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey is from Lynn and played at Trinity College in Hartford for Bill Decker, who is now Harvard’s coach.
The Astros lack Red Sox connections beyond infielder Mauricio Dubon and closer Ryan Pressly, both having once been Red Sox prospects.
Dubon was sent to Milwaukee in 2016 in the ill-fated trade for Tyler Thornburg. The Astros are his fourth organization.
Pressly was a 2007 draft pick by the Sox. Vázquez was his first catcher in a professional game in rookie ball. The Twins selected him in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft. Pressly had one save over six seasons with the Twins and has 107 since being traded to Houston in 2018, 64 the last two seasons.
Houston also has shortstop Jeremy Peña, the former University of Maine player who grew up in Providence.
▪ Orioles vs. Rangers
Baltimore is the lone remaining playoff team without any ties to the Red Sox or New England. Assistant GM Sig Mejdal could be a candidate to replace Bloom, however.
The Rangers have Nate Eovaldi lined up to start Game 3 of the series. He allowed one run over 6⅔ innings against Tampa Bay Wednesday. The former Red Sox righthander has a 2.90 ERA over 12 career playoff games.
Texas also has Martín Pérez, a lefty swingman who appeared in 48 games for the Sox from 2021-22. His last playoff appearance was for the Sox in 2021.
Associate manager Will Venable and hitting coach Tim Hyers are former Red Sox coaches.