Now that the Red Sox season is over and preparations for 2019 are under way, this is a good time to reset the roster.
Compared to last year at this time, when the Sox were building a coaching staff and still months away from signing J.D. Martinez, the Sox are much more settled.
Here is a breakdown of the contract status of players on the 40-man roster and a look at the prominent free agents who could be leaving the Sox:
These players are under guaranteed contract for at least one more season.
LHP David Price (through 2022 at $127 million): Price kept three promises. He made every start, he pitched well in the postseason, and he didn’t opt out of his contract. Unlike so many other celebrated free agents, Price learned how to handle Boston.
2B Dustin Pedroia (through 2021 at $40 million): He’s 35 and has had at least six surgeries to his left knee or foot. The odds are against Pedroia being a productive player again. But the odds were against him being the Rookie of the Year, MVP, and four-time All-Star in the first place.
DH-OF J.D. Martinez (through 2019 at $23.75 million): Martinez can opt out of his deal after the 2019, ’20, and ’21 seasons or collect $110 million in all. It’s great to have choices. But in terms of a manager, coaching staff, teammates who respect him, and an organization where he can build a Hall of Fame résumé, Martinez can’t do better than the Sox.
RHP Rick Porcello (signed through 2019 at $21 million): On the whole, Porcello has been a good investment. He has averaged 197 innings per season, been part of three postseason teams, and over the last three seasons pitched well above the league average.
LHP Chris Sale (through 2019 at $15 million): He had a 2.56 ERA over 372⅓ innings at a cost of $24.5 million his first two seasons. What a bargain. Only 29, Sale will be looking for a big season prior to free agency.
C Christian Vazquez (through 2021 at $13.55 million): The three-year extension he agreed to last spring, which starts next season, doesn’t look so great after he posted a .540 OPS. But he’ll get every chance to be the everyday catcher.
1B Mitch Moreland (through 2019 at $6.5 million): He gave the Sox excellent defense, clubhouse leadership, 37 home runs, and 147 RBIs as a platoon first baseman for two seasons at $11.5 million. He should be a bargain again in 2019.
INF Eduardo Nunez (through 2019 at $5 million): The Sox were too hasty to sign Nunez last spring. He was clearly still hurt for much of the season, then broke down physically near the end. His agents deserve kudos for negotiating a $5 million player option for 2019.
These players are under team control but must be offered a contract by Nov. 30 or they become free agents. If necessary, their 2019 salary would be determined by arbitration.
(Arbitration projections via MLBTradeRumors.com.)
OF Mookie Betts: He’ll land roughly an $8 million raise after an MVP-caliber season, the projection being $18.7 million. Ownership has made it clear they want to sign Betts to a long-term deal.
SS Xander Bogaerts: In his final year of arbitration, he’ll land approximately $11.9 million unless the Sox sign him to a long-term deal.
OF Jackie Bradley Jr.: He’ll get a deal worth roughly $8 million. If you’re among the stubborn few questioning his worth, Bradley was 10th in WAR (2.1) on a championship team.
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez: Only 25, Rodriguez is due $4.8 million. It would be nice to see him avoid the disabled list for once. There’s a 15-game winner lurking in there.
UTIL Brock Holt: He’ll be a free agent after next season and for now will land a deal worth roughly $3.5 million. He had a .774 OPS over 109 games and started at eight positions. There lots of value there.
RHP Tyler Thornburg: If the Sox were looking to save a few bucks, nontendering Thornburg and using the $2.3 million elsewhere isn’t a bad idea. Maybe it’s worth it to see if he finally bounces back from shoulder surgery, but there are few signs he will.
C Sandy Leon: Leon is a fascinating debate for a front office. On one hand, he’s an excellent catcher who has the unshakeable trust of the team’s best pitchers. On the other hand, he’s hit .201 the last two years. For now it’s worth $2.3 million to keep Sale happy and productive.
RHP Matt Barnes: At 28, he’ll finally make some decent money (approximately $1.5 million) after making 194 appearances the last three seasons.
RHP Brandon Workman: With all the DL time, this is actually his third time in arbitration. He’ll get around $1.4 million.
RHP Steven Wright: At 34 (young for a knuckleballer), Wright is due for roughly $1.4 million.
RHP Heath Hembree: He’s arbitration eligible for the first time after making 189 appearances the last four seasons with an adjusted ERA of 126. Hembree should get $1.1 million, a bargain given what he’s provided.
C-UTIL Blake Swihart: The former first-round pick is in line for $1.1 million. His draft bonus was $2.5 million in 2011.
0-3 YEARS OF SERVICE TIME
These players are under team control and not yet arbitration eligible. They are guaranteed at least the major league minimum unless released.
OF Andrew Benintendi: Other players are likely a greater priority at the moment. But Benintendi is a player the Sox should be looking to lock up.
RHP Ryan Brasier: A potential closer, the 31-year-old should have a bigger role however it plays out next season.
RHP William Cuevas: At 28, he has only 13 games in the majors. Cuevas is expendable depth.
3B Rafael Devers: Nine RBIs in the postseason did not cancel out a poor regular season that saw Devers make 24 errors and post a .731 OPS. As was the case a year ago, he needs to get in better condition.
INF Marco Hernandez: He had three surgical procedures on his left shoulder in a span of 13 months. To what degree he can be a serviceable player remains to be seen.
LHP Brian Johnson: A very valuable pitcher who should be again. His 99⅓ innings were fifth on the team.
UTIL Tzu-Wei Lin: This guy can play in the big leagues. But he’s in a roster crunch with the Sox.
RHP Austin Maddox: Rotator cuff surgery in September knocked him out for 2019.
LHP Bobby Poyner: He emerged from organizational depth to appear in 20 games and handled himself well.
LHP Robby Scott: His career took a wrong turn, going from 57 games in the majors in 2017 to only nine this past season.
RHP Chandler Shepherd: He was the only healthy 40-man roster player who did not get into a major league game this past season.
1B-OF Sam Travis: He’d probably be better off with another organization. A .713 OPS in parts of three seasons in Triple A doesn’t create much hope.
RHP Hector Velazquez: He has a 3.12 ERA in 55 games over two seasons. He wore down in the second half, though.
RHP Marcus Walden: He made the Opening Day roster, appeared in eight games, and vanished as injuries and poor performance cost him.
These players are free to sign with any team, including the Red Sox.
RHP Nathan Eovaldi: His postseason performance (four earned runs over 22⅓ innings in six games) should lead to a lucrative deal for the 28-year-old. He has played for five teams in seven seasons and wants to find long-term security.
RHP Joe Kelly: Kelly will likely try to market himself as a starter in free agency. Whether anybody bites on that is another story. He has been essentially league average in four-plus years with the Sox but has the high-end stuff that will get him a good contract. If he can find that deal on the West Coast, he’ll take it.
RHP Craig Kimbrel: Based on adjusted ERA, Kimbrel had the second-worst full season of his career with a 150 percent increase in walks and 15 percent decline in strikeouts. His postseason also was a wreck as he put 19 men on base over 10⅔ innings with only 10 strikeouts. But Kimbrel is a reliable closer and bringing him back would make sense at the right cost. But another team — Atlanta? — could well see him as worth splurging on.
2B Ian Kinsler: He almost surely will not be back. But Kinsler shored up the defense at second at a time when that was needed.
1B-DH-OF: Steve Pearce: The World Series MVP will not lack for offers after posting an .890 overall OPS. He’d be a good fit with the Sox to platoon with Moreland but can likely get more guaranteed money elsewhere. As he heads for his age-36 season, Pearce should take whatever he can get.
LHP Drew Pomeranz: If Pomeranz has the most WAR in 2019 among the Sox free agents it won’t be a surprise. He had a terrible 2018 but still throws a good curveball that makes his fastball look better than it is. He’s a good risk for a one-year deal.