GM Meetings Baseball

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow has plenty of work to do in his first offseason leading the franchise. The work should kick into high gear at the Winter Meetings starting Sunday. Matt York/Associated Press

Starting Sunday, Craig Breslow will get his opportunity to really put his stamp on the Red Sox.

The new chief baseball officer of the Red Sox will arrive at the Winter Meetings in Nashville and get to work on turning the team into a winner again. Breslow has been on the job for more than a month already, but much of the phone calls and discussions at the GM meetings will feel like a dry run when things heat up at the Opryland Hotel.

There’s something about getting everybody – executives, agents – under one roof that usually spurs trades and signings. There will be avenues available to improve the Red Sox next week, though it’s unlikely every box will be checked before he leaves. It’s a long winter.

Here’s a guide to what Breslow needs, and some potential paths to take.


This is the first priority, but if we’re being honest, it could be considered the second and third, too. As currently constituted, the Red Sox have only two slots in their starting rotation accounted for: Brayan Bello and Chris Sale. Sometime between now and the start of spring training, Breslow needs to acquire two starters. And not just any starters — they need to be proven, accomplished and durable.


Yoshinobu Yamamoto is one of the top pitcher available to MLB teams this offseason. The 25-year-old has been dominant in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

If the Red Sox want to complete in the top-heavy free agent market, there are a number of attractive options, led by Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a 25-year-old Japanese ace. Principal owner John Henry has long been averse to signing pitchers in their 30s, but the Sox could sign Yamamoto to an eight-year deal and only the last three of which would come with the pitcher having turned 30.

Evaluators have little doubt that Yamamoto can be as dominant in MLB as he has been in Nippon Professional Baseball, with a wide assortment of quality pitches and excellent command. He will not, predictably, come cheap.

Blake Snell, one of seven pitchers to have won a Cy Young Award in both leagues, is the other top starter this winter. Snell will turn 31 next week, and despite his trophies, has not shown himself to be an innings-eater, having only topped 130 innings in his two Cy Young seasons. Moreover, he’s made it known that he would like to pitch on the West Coast, with a specific preference for his hometown of Seattle.

Ranked below Yamamoto and Snell is lefty Jordan Montgomery, whose stock rose in the postseason. Montgomery, too, is set to turn 31 later this month. He hasn’t been as dominant as Snell and profiles more as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. It could help the Red Sox that he’s living near Boston this winter, as his wife fulfills her medical residency at an area hospital.

If Breslow chooses to deal for a starter rather than sign one, he’ll have plenty of options. A number of veteran starters with either a year or two of remaining control can be had, including Chicago’s Dylan Cease, Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow.

Any one of those will require a package headed by an elite prospect, and would come with considerable risk: if the Red Sox don’t extend the pitcher they acquire, they could give up a chunk of their farm system for a year (Burnes, Glasnow, Bieber) or two (Cease) in return.


Viewed through that lens, the Red Sox might be better off dealing for a pitcher with less service time, and thus, more remaining control. Naturally, such a pitcher would require a better package of prospects, but the benefit would be obtaining a starter in his prime, with multiple seasons before qualifying for free agency. The Seattle Mariners (George Kirby, Logan Gilbert) and Miami Marlins (Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett, Edward Cabrera) are just two teams who might have enough rotation depth to make this sort of deal.


As it stands, the Red Sox have Pablo Reyes, Enmanuel Vadez and David Hamilton as their in-house candidates for the position. Candidates, not solutions.

Whit Merrifield is an option the Sox could look at to fill their need for a second baseman. His versatile but doesn’t hit for much power. David Zalubowski/Associated Press

On the free agent front, Whit Merrifield, 34, is the best of a rather uninspiring lot. Merrifield offers athleticism, speed and versatility (he can fill in in the outfield), but his secondary numbers are off-putting. Merrifield doesn’t hit the ball hard (as his .382 slugging percentage attests) and he’s somewhat below-average defensively. One positive: he wouldn’t require a long-term commitment, so the Red Sox don’t have to worry about blocking Nick Yorke or Marcelo Mayer for their middle infield.

Among trade possibilities, the Los Angeles Angels’ Brandon Drury is an attractive possibility, with pop (26 homers) and solid defense. It doesn’t hurt that he hits right handed in a lineup that currently leans left. He has a year remaining on a deal that will pay him $8.5 million and isn’t part of the Angels’ long-term plans. He’d represent a nice bridge to Yorke or someone else in 2025.


As noted, the Red Sox are imbalanced offensively, with as many as five everyday players hitting from the left side. They need a righty to hit in-between Rafael Devers and Triston Casas, and preferably someone who could eat up DH at-bats while still contributing somewhat defensively. (Breslow has said he would prefer not to have an everyday DH, feeling that it limits a team’s options).

Bringing back Adam Duvall shouldn’t be discounted, especially if Duvall is willing to play some first base, which he did occasionally earlier in his career.

Another option could be free agent Mitch Garver, whose pull power would play well at Fenway. Garver has been injury prone when he catches, but if he could serve as a part-time DH while filling in at first and serving as a third catcher, he could provide real value.

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