It’s officially 2024, meaning there’s a chance for everyone to turn the page and start anew. That includes the Red Sox, who finished off a tumultuous 2023 with a wild weekend that included the signing of starter Lucas Giolito and the shocking trade that sent Chris Sale to the Braves for Vaughn Grissom.

Four days ago, I wouldn’t have predicted a Sale deal was coming at all this winter. Now, though it is prediction time, to the tune of 24 predictions for the 2024 Red Sox.

These are predictions in the truest sense – guesses more than anything. Though it’s fair to sometimes feel pretty informed about things considering I cover the team as a full-time job, this is meant to be a fun exercise instead of hard-core reporting.

Expect some of these to come true and some to be way off. As a reference, in our last predictions column at the beginning of the offseason, I correctly had the Sox signing Giolito, trading Alex Verdugo (while mentioning the Yankees) and pegged the Dodgers as the team for Shohei Ohtani. I also had Boston signing Aaron Nola and the Cardinals getting Tyler Glasnow. So, big grain of salt and all that. In 2024 …

1. Kenley Jansen will be traded to a team looking for a closer. There’s just too much smoke about this possibility, especially in the context of the Red Sox telling free agents that they are looking to shed some payroll to accommodate further additions. There are plenty of capable relievers who can step into the closer’s role (Tanner Houck? Chris Martin? Garrett Whitlock?) without the Sox taking a major hit. Things didn’t end well between Jansen and the Dodgers but a reunion there makes some sense.

2. Craig Breslow will make a major trade involving multiple young pieces. He has to, right? The Red Sox, especially in the wake of the Sale trade, need a solid starter and it seems more likely than not they’ll try to find that piece via trade. Breslow has options. He can move a young outfielder (Jarren Duran? Wilyer Abreu? Ceddanne Rafaela?) a young infielder (Marcelo Mayer in a blockbuster? Nick Yorke?) or a young pitcher (Houck? Josh Winckowski? A prospect?) as the centerpiece. The Mariners and Marlins both have controllable starters and seem like logical partners. Maybe the Cubs or Giants, as well.


3. No one from ownership takes questions from fans at Winter Weekend. After last year’s well-documented, extremely awkward Town Hall event, it’s interesting to note that the Friday night gathering in Springfield is described on the team’s site as a “Welcome Event” this year.

4. Adam Duvall comes back but James Paxton and Justin Turner sign elsewhere. None of Boston’s top three free agents have signed yet. That could change quickly. Duvall’s market has been quiet and it feels like he may be had for cheap late in the winter. He was a great fit for Fenway and could return as a DH option… especially if he can play first base to give Triston Casas some rest against lefties. The Red Sox have talked to Paxton about a return but it looks like the Mariners are in play for him again. It’s all but certain Turner goes elsewhere. His market is similar to that of old friend J.D. Martinez.

5. Bobby Dalbec is finally traded. In December, Alex Cora went out of his way to talk about Dalbec having a role on the major league team next season but considering the history, that’s hard to believe. Breslow will do right by the player and finally give him a chance in another organization.

6. Brayan Bello starts for the Red Sox on Opening Day. In what was supposed to be Sale’s spot, Bello assumes the role of staff ace and gets the nod in Seattle on March 28. That means the Red Sox won’t add a true No. 1 to put in front of him.

7. John Henry speaks. Against all odds, the principal owner emerges from hiding and addresses the fans in a formal setting for the first time in four years. Fan outrage gets to a point where he can’t avoid it anymore. Not that I harp on this or anything.

8. The Red Sox play better on their opening West Coast swing than five years ago. Well, it’s hard to do worse than the 3-8 record they posted to open 2019. But this year’s opening trip will be above .500. Let’s say 6-4. Three dates with the A’s will help.


9. Vaughn Grissom settles in at second base and makes more than 100 appearances there. The Red Sox are going to give this kid a long leash, it seems. And while 100 doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s a high bar for Boston in recent years. No Red Sox second baseman has played 100 games since Dustin Pedroia in 2016. Eight seasons!

10. Chris Sale wins 10-plus games and is a key piece of a successful Braves season. I was bullish on a Sale turnaround last year and continue to be, even if the soon-to-be 35-year-old hasn’t proven he can stay healthy for more than a half-decade. In a new place, he’ll rebound and become a steady presence for a very good Braves club.

11. Tanner Houck will lead the Red Sox in saves. The more I think about Prediction No. 1, the more this makes sense. For as good as his career has been, Chris Martin only has 12 career saves. Why mess with his eighth-inning dominance? Houck was great in the ninth inning in 2022 and will take over for Jansen.

12. Adalberto Mondesí finally appears in a game for the Red Sox. Yes, this one’s out of nowhere and comes with no inside knowledge. Mondesí is still a free agent. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to Boston on a minor league deal after rehabbing with the organization for a year… then finds himself in the majors at some point due to injury or need.

13. Trevor Story is an All-Star. I’m all aboard the Story bounce-back train. The swing-and-miss at the end of last year was a concern, but he was swinging with a new elbow so we’ll give him a pass. Three years into his Red Sox contract, Story turns things around. And he could be one of three Red Sox infielders to make a bid at the All-Star team along with Rafael Devers and Casas.

14. Either Casas or Bello signs an extension. I know it’s a cop-out giving both names here, but it’s too early in the winter to know if either young star is serious about making a deal happen. Considering the organization’s previous shortcomings in this area, they’ll be aggressive. Spring training, as always, is a time to watch.


15. Abreu exceeds Verdugo’s production in right field. As difficult as Verdugo was at times, the Red Sox wouldn’t have traded him if they weren’t supremely confident in Abreu’s ability to step into the right field position. As of now, that’s the plan. Abreu will have a better offensive season than Verdugo did a year ago.

16. Verdugo has a great year and gets a deal exceeding $80 million next winter. With that said, Verdugo will bounce back in a big way, too. He’s a guy who needs clear, external motivation. Reputation tarnished? Check. Dumped by a team to their biggest rivals? Check. Contract year? Check. Add playing 81 games in Yankee Stadium and you have a guy who gets a big payday out of a good walk year.

17. The Red Sox retire Tim Wakefield’s No. 49. It would be more than fitting and a wonderful way to honor a wonderful man. No one would object to this.

18. Curt Schilling is told to stay home when the 2004 team reunites at Fenway. Already a pariah, Schilling’s decision to publicly reveal Wakefield’s battle with cancer just days before his death may have been the last straw in his relationship with the Red Sox. There will be 2004 teammates who will be strongly against honoring Schilling, despite his massive role in that championship.

19. Breslow makes a major trade deadline splash. Knowing, at least in part, that indecision did in his predecessor, Breslow makes a major splash at his first trade deadline with the Red Sox in contention. Maybe even a rental. The clubhouse is thrilled.

20. Kyle Teel is the first of the “big three” prospects to debut. Teel will tear up Double-A, get a quick promotion to Triple-A and be knocking on the door of the majors by the deadline. Connor Wong will cede the job by the end of the year. Marcelo Mayer and Roman Anthony will wait until 2025.


21. There will be fewer than five sellouts in the first half. Barring major changes, Red Sox fans are not invested in this team and that’ll show at the gate. Half-empty Fenway in early April? Yup. And very few instances of a full ballpark until the Red Sox prove they’re contenders.

22. Chaim Bloom is hired to run another team’s baseball operations department. It’ll wait until next fall, as Bloom is likely to spend 2024 as a special advisor to a club. But the Marlins’ interest in him a few weeks back shows that teams are ready and willing to give him a second chance.

23. The Red Sox actually do make the playoffs. There’s young talent. There are budding stars. And as tough as the American League East is, the rest of the league doesn’t scare me. For the first time since 2021, the Red Sox will play meaningful baseball in October. (I can change this one depending on how the roster looks when spring training opens).

24. Alex Cora manages his last game in a Red Sox uniform. Either they play poorly and Breslow wants to go in another direction or they play well enough to make teams want to pay Cora handsomely in free agency. Both outcomes could lead to his departure, potentially for a big market team in New York or Los Angeles.

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