Red Sox Wrapping Up Disappointing Season [Redux]

The Second Annual Installment
Red Sox Wrapping Up Disappointing Season [Redux]

One year ago today, I published my second sports article and first of my third year on the Lion’s Roar website, titled “Red Sox Wrapping Up Disappointing Season.” In the piece, I detailed the disappointing campaign that the 2022 Red Sox had, ending in another year watching the playoffs from home. This year, 365 days later, the Red Sox have been greeted with the same fate.  In last year’s article, injuries and midseason slides were cause for detriment to the team. So what went wrong this time? This season, it was more of the same. 

Injuries are a part of sport, so making a claim which suggests the Red Sox were a mediocre big-market team whose struggles revolve around injury luck is sheer foolishness. All considered, however, the Red Sox did face numerous critical injuries. Adam Duvall missed almost 70 games, and Chris Sale only made 18 appearances. Corey Kluber made only 15 and is now firmly lodged into a spot on the 60-day IL. Trevor Story, who the Red Sox signed to a six-year megadeal, missed over 100 games. Story is not exactly a model of consistency and health by MLB standards. The shortstop-turned-second-baseman missed 20 games in his last season with the Rockies and 68 last season with Boston. Additionally, his individual statistics have tailed off as well, not just from his Red Sox tenure. Since 2019, Story’s batting average has declined year-by-year, starting at a formidable figure of .294 and collapsing to a mere .185 since. Other notable statistics in which Story has declined since 2019: On Base Percentage, Slugging, and OPS. Story was a critically acclaimed batter, winning two Silver Slugger awards… in the thin air of Colorado. Perhaps the worst-kept secret in the league, if even a secret at all, is that it is easier to hit a baseball for distance in Colorado due to the altitude. In his entire career, Story has not received so much as a single vote or share of a Gold Glove award. As expected, since leaving Coors Field, Story’s career has been rocky (pun intended) at best. The mismanagement and poor decisions within the Red Sox organization have submitted Boston for damnation to the league’s purgatory. But it wasn’t always like that. 

Directly after season’s end, Boston had a plethora of free agents to sign. After all, the team was loaded. Chris Sale and David Price were a resilient one-two punch, and the rotation was supplemented by three other great starters- Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi. From a bullpen standpoint, the team certainly wasn’t lacking: Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and several other high-level relievers. Boston had two star-to-be infielders, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogearts. And on top of all of that, the team had possession of what looked to be the outfield of the future: Jackie Bradley Jr, Andrew Benintendi, and of course, Mookie Betts. 

Two weeks into November, Alex Cora was retained as manager with a one-and-one managerial contract. Three weeks later, Beantown inked Nathan Eovaldi, who gave a heroic extra-innings effort about a month prior, to a four-year deal. On January 11th, 2019, as a product of arbitration, several big names were brought back on one-year deals, including but not limited

to Brandon Workman, Brock Holt, Betts, Bradley Jr, and Bogearts. In March, Benintendi was brought back. All was well. Until it wasn’t.

From 2019 on, a series of puzzling moves paved the way for a murky, “always dwindling in the .500 range” era for Boston. The Red Sox gave Chris Sale megamoney, $145 million total for a five-season contract. At the time, this looked like a good deal, and, as bad as it looks now, the contract is still defensible. Prior to the contract being agreed on, Sale had just been the ace on a title team and had finished the previous seven seasons no less than sixth in Cy Young voting. In retrospect, this deal looks terrible, as Sale has been available about as much as Chic-Fil-A on the Sabbath. Following this move, Bogearts got a long-term extension. Again, big moves.

These days would be among the last in which the Red Sox front office truly displayed a sense of direction and acted on it to a point that most fans could deem satisfactory when looking at it many months later. On September 8th, 2019, at 76-67, management pulled the plug on Head Honcho Dave Dombrowski. The Chaim Bloom era was upon us. Bloom, a baseball savant who turned a small-market Rays franchise with minimal fans and a bottom-of-the-barrell stadium into a perennial powerhouse, was handed the keys to a franchise one season removed from the Promiseland. 

Shockingly enough, Sandy Leon of all players was the proverbial “first domino to fall.” Leon was the catcher on the World Series squad and was traded for a prospect (Adenys Bautista) who has never appeared in so much as a Double-A game. 

The Mookie Betts trade is often understated in how poor a return the Red Sox netted for a player who very well might be the best of his generation. In nine-plus seasons of work, one shortened by COVID, Betts has accumulated the following resume:


2014 (BOS)

2015 (BOS)- 19th AL MVP Voting

2016 (BOS)- All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, 2nd AL MVP Voting

2017 (BOS)- All-Star, Gold Glove, 6th AL MVP Voting

2018 (BOS)- All-Star, AL MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Batting Average Leader

2019 (BOS)- All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, 8th AL MVP Voting

2020 (LAD)- Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, 2nd NL MVP Voting

2021 (LAD)- All-Star

2022 (LAD)- All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, 5th NL MVP Voting

2023(LAD)*- All-Star


In other terms, Betts has a stacked resume. The figures above fail to consider his lifetime .295 batting average, 250+ homers, 750+ runs batted in, nearly a thousand runs scored, and two championships out of the leadoff position. In my upcoming novel, I describe how stats being only half the story is a recurring theme in basketball. Across sports, Betts exemplifies this phenomenon. Outside of performing proficiently in nearly every major skill needed to be a successful baseball player- Betts is an incredible fielder and carries a big bat as well- the outfielder has one of the highest fan approval ratings in the sport and is beloved by two franchises. 

Boston also sent David Price and cash considerations to Los Angeles. Price put in meaningful work for the Dodgers as a reliever after sitting out the 2020 season. 

In return for one of the greatest baseballers since 2000, the Red Sox obtained Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs. Verdugo has been a solid outfielder for Boston, but make no doubt about it, not nearly on the level of night-to-night contribution that could be expected from Betts. Jeter Downs, the supposed future asset of the trade, is now in Washington and has a negative Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in his career. Wong is a formidable starter at catcher for Boston. 

After considering that the Red Sox pocketed 30 cents on the dollar for Betts, many fans will ask why the Red Sox would engage in such a horrid transaction. The reason is no simpler than the fact the team wanted to avoid paying a hefty luxury tax fee. In a cost-cutting effort, Betts was gone with the wind. The Betts trade was just the first of many brutal moves in a 48-month reset in Boston that has left the franchise with no sense of direction and another season of missing postseason baseball. Here’s what has happened between then and now:


December 14, 2020: Signed Hunter Renfroe to one-year deal

February 2nd, 2021: Signed Enrique Hernandez to two-year deal

February 20th, 2021: Traded Andrew Benintendi for Franchy Cordero, prospects

July 22nd, 2021: Drafted Marcelo Mayer

July 29th, 2021: Traded for Kyle Schwarber (would not be re-signed)

November 16th, 2021: Eduardo Rodriguez leaves in free agency

December 1st, 2021: Hunter Renfroe traded for Jackie Bradley Jr

March 23rd, 2022: Signed Trevor Story to six-year deal

August 1st, 2022: Traded Christian Vasquez for Wilyer Abreu, Enmanuel Valdez

August 1st, 2022: Trade Deadline Acquisitions- Reese McGuire, Tommy Pham, Eric Hosmer

August 4th, 2022: Released Jackie Bradley Jr.

December 9th, 2022: Xander Bogearts leaves in free agency

December 29th, 2022: JD Martinez leaves in free agency

January 4th, 2023: Signed Rafael Devers to 11-year deal

August 1st, 2023: Trade Deadline Acquisition: Luis Urias

September 14th, 2023: Chaim Bloom Fired


The most egregious showing of the past decade, perhaps even past the Babe Ruth trade, which altered the mainframe of baseball as we know it, gets even worse when considering the moves the Red Sox made in its aftermath. Betts wanted to remain in Boston, yet he was dealt in a moment of cheapness. Some reports claim that the Red Sox justified not re-signing Betts not only from a salary cap perspective but also under the belief that he would “fall off” as he grew older. Betts, years later, looks like one of the best baseballers on Earth, as usual. Boston must not have applied this same logic when looking at Rafael Devers, who the Red Sox were practically forced to sign as they had already lost marquee infielder Xander Bogearts to the San Diego Padres. Devers is slower, and less in shape as is in comparison to Betts. Additionally, he may not even be three-tenths of the fielder Betts is- Devers has led third basemen in errors in every season since 2018. 

In retrospect, the puzzling decisions the Red Sox have made and continue to make has left many loyal fans confused and irate. A crucial winter awaits Boston, who will need to right the ship eventually and escape laughingstock status as a large-market team. The Red Sox have plenty of decisions to make in free agency, and an abundance of talent in the free agent pool to choose from. Aaron Nola may be a name to watch. Additionally, the Red Sox are one of several teams to be named in the sweepstakes for Japanese pitching ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Per usual, Boston will have to re-sign some players as well, including Adam Duvall. It’s time for the Red Sox to put pen to paper. 


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