2022-23 MLB offseason: Predicting where Red Sox free agents will sign

The most challenging offseason of Chaim Bloom’s Boston Red Sox tenure is underway.

Coming off a last-place finish in the American League East, the Red Sox have several holes to fill throughout the roster. The most glaring voids are shortstop with Xander Bogaerts becoming a free agent and the starting rotation with right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Wacha hitting the open market.

Boston should also look to overhaul its bullpen, especially with Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck expected to begin 2023 as starters. Matt Strahm and Rich Hill are free agents, though both left-handers could return on affordable short-term deals.

JD Martinez and Tommy Pham round out the list of Red Sox free agents. Bloom will likely need to find a new designated hitter to replace the 2018 World Series champion, but Pham is a candidate to return after a solid few months with the 2022 club.

So, which uniforms will the Red Sox’ free agents be wearing next year? Here’s an educated guess for each.

Xander Bogaerts, SS – Philadelphia Phillies

Unlike the Red Sox, the Phillies appear to be serious about being the highest bidder for Bogaerts’ services. Much of that has to do with ex-Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski being at the helm for Philly.

After coming so close to a World Series title, Dombrowski and the Phillies should be aggressive this offseason to assure they return to the big stage in 2023. Signing Bogaerts would be a statement that Philly isn’t going anywhere, and it would be a great way for the big-spending Dombrowski to sabotage an organization he felt mistreated by at the end of his tenure.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 6/10

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP – Boston Red Sox

My original prediction for Eovaldi was that he would head home to play for the Texas Rangers, who need all the pitching help they can get. Recent reports that the Red Sox already have offered Eovaldi a multi-year contract have changed my stance. It seems both sides would like to work something out, and it makes sense for Boston to keep either Eovaldi or Wacha. My sense is that an Eovaldi deal gets done sooner rather than later.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 8/10

JD Martinez, DH – Cleveland Guardians

All signs point toward Martinez moving on in free agency after five stellar seasons in Boston. The 35-year-old doesn’t have the same power he once had, but he can still provide some pop in the middle of a lineup that needs it. The Guardians, desperate for a big bat or two, would be an excellent fit for the veteran DH who might as well be considered a second hitting coach.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 3/10

Michael Wacha, RHP – Detroit Tigers

If Eovaldi signs elsewhere, Wacha returning to the Red Sox would make perfect sense. The veteran right was the surprise star of Boston’s rotation in 2022.

Tomase: Red Sox rotation taking shape, but badly needs top-end stability

Unfortunately for Bloom and Co., that means Wacha’s price tag has gone up this offseason. I see him landing with a team willing to overpay for a mid-rotation starter. The Tigers need pitching and they already were willing to overpay for one of Boston’s free agents last year: Eduardo Rodriguez.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 7/10

Tommy Pham, OF – Chicago White Sox

The Red Sox declined Pham’s $12 million option for 2023 but there’s still a strong chance the journeyman outfielder returns next season. For the sake of this exercise, however, I believe the White Sox make the most sense as Pham’s next destination. Chicago needs to add some outfield depth and Pham is one of the top low-risk, potentially high-reward options out there.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 7/10

Rich Hill, LHP – Boston Red Sox

Hill, who turns 43 in March, was worth every penny of his $5 million salary in 2022. The veteran southpaw would make for a solid spot starter who can help out the bullpen next season. Hill has already said he hopes to return to the Red Sox in 2023, so the ball is in the front office’s court.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 8/10

Matt Strahm, LHP – Philadelphia Phillies

Strahm has stated his desire to convert to a starter next season. There’s virtually no chance that happens in Boston, so don’t expect him to return unless he changes his tune. If he sticks to relieving — the most likely scenario — another season with the Red Sox is very much on the table. Dombrowski and the Phillies could use a solid left-handed arm for their bullpen as well.

Likelihood of returning to Red Sox: 6/10

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