Red Sox Offseason Moves To Remember Before 2024 Spring Training Begins

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The Boston Red Sox were sneaky busy this MLB offseason.

Sure, they didn’t sign a top free agent, like Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto. And they didn’t swing a blockbuster trade, like the New York Yankees did to acquire Juan Soto. But they hired a new chief baseball officer, Craig Breslow, and welcomed Theo Epstein back to the Fenway Sports Group family. So, it was an important few months, nonetheless.

There still are several high-level free agents available, including Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, both of whom would help stabilize Boston’s rotation. But it’s possible the Red Sox’s offseason heavy lifting is done, in which case it’s worth revisiting Boston’s new faces before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Fort Myers on Wednesday.

Trades
*IF Luis Urías to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Isaiah Campbell

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*OF Alex Verdugo to the New York Yankees for RHP Greg Weissert, RHP Richard Fitts and RHP Nicholas Judice

*LHP Ryan Ammons to the New York Mets for RHP Justin Slaten

*RHP Nick Robertson and RHP Victor Santos to the St. Louis Cardinals for OF Tyler O’Neill

*LHP Chris Sale and cash to the Atlanta Braves for IF Vaughn Grissom

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*Cash to the New York Mets for C Tyler Heineman

The biggest moves here, obviously, center around Verdugo and Sale. Verdugo spent four seasons in Boston after coming over in the trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Sale spent seven years in the Red Sox organization after a blockbuster deal with the Chicago White Sox.

The Red Sox have a surplus of outfielders, especially after adding Tyler O’Neill to a mix that includes Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran, Rob Refsnyder, Ceddanne Rafaela and Wilyer Abreu. And Verdugo drew the ire of Red Sox manager Alex Cora last season. So, that move wasn’t terribly surprising. Boston added young pitching depth in return, with Fitts, 24, even participating in Red Sox development camp this winter. Weissert, 29, has made 29 career major league appearances, all in relief.

The Sale trade, meanwhile, was very surprising. The seven-time All-Star has battled the injury bug in recent years but had been a bona fide ace before that. He’s more or less a wild card entering his age-35 season, but the Red Sox jumped at the opportunity to acquire Grissom, a highly touted prospect who figures to become Boston’s starting second baseman in 2024. Grissom, 23, is under club control through 2029, so it was a long-term play by Boston.

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O’Neill, as mentioned, joins a relatively crowded Red Sox outfield. But he’s a solid defender who hits the ball hard. Boston is banking on the 28-year-old to bounce back from a shaky 2022 and 2023. O’Neill, a two-time Gold Glove winner, finished eighth in National League MVP voting in 2021 after hitting 34 home runs with 80 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and a .912 OPS.

Campbell and Slaten both figure to compete for spots in the Red Sox’s bullpen, while adding Heineman seemingly reflects a desire to have catching stability stashed in the minors with Connor Wong and Reese McGuire likely to handle Boston’s backstop duties again this season.

Notable free agent signings
*RHP Cooper Criswell

*C Roberto Pérez (minor league contract)

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*RHP Lucas Giolito

*IF/OF Romy González (minor league contract)

*RHP Michael Fulmer (minor league contract)

*LHP Lucas Luetge (minor league contract)

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Giolito is the big ticket here, reportedly signing a two-year, $38.5 million contract that includes an opt-out after the first season. The 29-year-old had an abysmal 2023 split between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians, but his prior track record and underlying metrics suggest he’s a rebound candidate in 2024. Giolito was an All-Star in 2019, a season that kicked off a stretch of three straight years finishing in the top 11 in American League Cy Young voting.

Criswell could factor into Boston’s 2024 plans, likely in a relief role, while the other names represent organizational depth. Fulmer is expected to miss the entire season after undergoing elbow surgery.

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