Six years after the Red Sox traded Jon Lester, the veteran left-hander is available as a free agent, and Boston needs help in its starting rotation. Could a reunion be in store? Michael Dwyer/Associated Press file

The Boston Red Sox have plenty of clear needs as they look to shape their roster, and they are expected to make multiple free-agent additions in the coming months. While Chaim Bloom and his staff would surely like to bring in some new blood, there’s also a possibility that the Red Sox could reunite with some old friends to fill in some holes.

Here are 10 former Red Sox players who theoretically could return to Boston this winter:

Heath Hembree: Hembree posted a brutal 12.54 ERA in 11 games with the Phillies after being traded on Aug. 21 and was cut at the end of the year. Despite pitching well early in the season for the Red Sox, he’s probably going to have to settle for a minor-league contract as he enters his age-32 season.
Word is Hembree would be open to returning, especially with Alex Cora back as the manager. Considering the success he had before being traded, the Red Sox could explore bringing him back on a low-cost flier.

Rich Hill: On a free-agent market flooded with veteran starters, Hill, who turns 41 in March, probably isn’t a priority. But the Milton native was effective in 2020, posting a 3.03 ERA in eight starts with the Twins, and isn’t considering retirement. The lefty has been with the Red Sox twice before – from 2010 to 2012 and again in 2015 – and told WEEI’s Rob Bradford last month that he thought the club was a fit.

Jon Lester: There has been ample talk about Lester, who spent the last six years with the Cubs, returning to the place his career started and potentially finishing his career in Boston. In May, speaking to Bradford, the soon-to-be 37-year-old even opened the door himself. A reunion seems less than likely because the Red Sox are probably looking at better options in the same price range, and the Cubs are known to be interested in bringing him back. But Red Sox owner John Henry might push to sign Lester after famously not locking him up to an extension in 2014, and Lester and Cora are former teammates.

Mark Melancon: Melancon’s first stint in Boston (2012) is remembered for a brutal start and an ERA that was recorded as “infinity” at one point, but he actually pitched well down the stretch before being traded to the Pirates in a winter deal that sent Brock Holt to the Red Sox. Since then, Melancon has pitched for four teams and been named an All-Star three times. He’s now a free agent entering his age-36 season after posting a 2.78 ERA in 23 appearances for the Braves.

Mitch Moreland: Moreland got off to a torrid start with the Red Sox this summer before they shipped him to the Padres for prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario, then he struggled in San Diego and ultimately had his $3 million club option declined, at least partially due to the uncertainty surrounding the designated hitter rule next season. With Bobby Dalbec, a right-handed hitter, likely to take the lion’s share of playing time at first base, the Sox could use a veteran lefty at the position, and Moreland still fits.

Kevin Pillar: Pillar was also traded at the deadline, being sent to the Rockies in a deal that netted the Red Sox promising pitching prospect Jacob Wallace. Before the deal, Pillar – who was brought in to be a right-handed hitting complement in an outfield mix with three lefties – played well on both sides of the ball and took on a leadership role on a team lacking direction. There are a few right-handed hitting outfielders available who probably have more upside (Hunter Renfroe and Adam Duvall are two), but the Red Sox know they’d get someone who plays hard in Pillar.

Rick Porcello: Porcello had a brutal year with the Mets (5.64 ERA, 1.508 WHIP in 59 innings) but still made 12 starts, eating innings during a season in which virtually every team dealt with devastating pitching injuries. At almost 32, Porcello is no longer as good as he was when he won the Cy Young Award four years ago, but he can eat innings, which is more valuable than it sounds. A strong relationship with Cora helps the case for a reunion here.

Josh Reddick: Reddick, who is about to turn 34 in February, is a left-handed hitter, making him an imperfect fit for a club that’s probably looking to add a righty to its outfield mix. He has carved out a nice career in the American League West after beginning his career with the Red Sox from 2009 to 2011, and might intrigue the Sox as a bench bat.

Travis Shaw: Shaw was non-tendered by the Blue Jays after posting a .717 OPS in 50 games. He’s another candidate to be a lefty complement at first and can also play some second base, which could interest the Red Sox. The 30-year-old had interest in signing with Boston last winter when the Brewers non-tendered him, but nothing ever materialized.

Brandon Workman: Like Hembree, Workman struggled mightily after being traded to the Phillies (6.92 ERA in 14 games) and saw his market value drop precipitously after a stellar 2019. As a guy who likely needs to sign a “prove-it deal,” he may be amenable to returning to the organization where he spent the first 10 years of his big-league career.

THE RED SOX have acquired minor league infielder Christian Koss from the Colorado Rockies for left-handed pitcher Yoan Aybar.

Aybar was on Boston’s 40-man roster, but he was not a member of the 60-player pool at the alternate training site in Pawtucket for the shortened 2020 season. He never has pitched above High-A.

Koss, who is listed at 6-1, 182 pounds, was not on Colorado’s 40-man roster. So Boston’s 40-man roster is down to 39 players.

The Rockies drafted the 22-year-old Koss out of UC Irvine in the 12th round in 2019. He batted .332 with a .447 on-base percentage, .605 slugging percentage, 11 home runs, 11 doubles, four triples, 51 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 53 games for the 2019 Rookie-level Grand Junction Rockies. He made 18 starts at third base, 18 at second base, 13 at shortstop, and four as a designated hitter.

Baseball America ranked him the Rockies’ No. 29 prospect.

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