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Red Sox offseason wish list: Boston should seek Kyle Schwarber reunion; who will replace Eduardo Rodriguez?

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The 2021-22 MLB offseason is a few weeks old and some major moves are starting to happen. Like the MLB season itself, however, the offseason is a marathon rather than a sprint — although the impending expiration of the competitive bargaining agreement greatly complicates how the hot stove season proceeds. 

That said, it’s still the offseason, and we’re going to examine each prospective buyer’s winter wish list over the next few days. Now it’s the Boston Red Sox’s turn. Let’s get to it.

Shortstop/middle infield

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This seems like an odd thing to say given that incumbent Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts is one of the most productive bats at the position in all of baseball. He’s an outstanding player, to be sure, but he’s stretched defensively these days. Moving Bogaerts to second base would fill that void for the Red Sox and adding Carlos Correa — the top talent on the market this winter — would give them another heart-of-the-order bat while also giving them a massive defensive upgrade at that vital position. 

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Wish list: Correa is the prize here, as noted above, but if that doesn’t turn out to be a realistic pairing of team and free agent, then Corey Seager is a possibility. He’s not the defender Correa is, but he’s better than Bogaerts. If the Sox decide that moving Bogaerts off of shortstop at this time is not the way forward, then they could pivot to Marcus Semien. Not only would they be plucking him from a contending division rival (the Blue Jays), but he would also fit nicely in Boston’s second base void. Semien grades out as one of the top defensive second basemen in baseball right now (and top offensive second basemen, for that matter), and he could still likely be a defensive plus at his old position of shortstop should Bogaerts wind up being amenable to a switch down the road. 

Are John Henry and company willing to invest at such levels given their miserly ways over the last two seasons? That remains to be seen, but they certainly should if they have any interest in trying to win a ring with their current core. 

Rotation 

Chris Sale will be in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery in 2022, so perhaps he’ll provide better consistency while still flashing his ace-grade upside. Nathan Eovaldi, provided he stays healthy, is a legit frontline starter, and Tanner Houck has shown enough promise to merit optimism regarding his long-term future as a starter. Beyond that, Nick Pivetta should provide enough value to pin down the back end. All that said, securing an additional mid-rotation starter or better is certainly in order. 

Wish list: The Red Sox would’ve done well to re-up with Eduardo Rodriguez, but he wound up signing with the Tigers. Instead, Boston should now pivot to Justin Verlander. It must be noted that Verlander has pitched in one game in the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, and he’s not exactly a known quantity as a 39-year-old coming off a lengthy rehab process. Those risk factors, however, are why Verlander will likely wind up inking a short-term “pillow” contract this offseason — perhaps even a one-year deal with a vesting option. That brief commitment (albeit at a hefty average annual value) should be appealing to the Sox, and the Sox’s status as likely contenders should appeal to Verlander. Recall that when Verlander last pitched a full season, in 2019, he won the AL Cy Young award. More broadly, adding to the rotation should allow Garrett Whitlock to remain in the bullpen.

First base

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Bobby Dalbec seemed to find his level late in the season, but overall his subpar on-base skills and poor defense didn’t help the Sox for the bulk of 2021. In large measure, that — plus the desire to get a third lefty bat in the lineup — is why Boston dealt for Kyle Schwarber leading up to the trade deadline. 

Wish list: Schwarber is a free agent, but, as with Rodriguez, the Sox should seek out a reunion. This season, Schwarber batted .266/.374/.554 in 113 games for the Nationals and Red Sox with 32 home runs and made his first All-Star team. For his career, the 28-year-old has an OPS+ of 119. In terms of batted-ball metrics, Schwarber this past season was elite or near-elite in terms of average exit velocity, barrel rate, and chase rate — all of which portends continued excellence at the plate. 

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Yes, Schwarber needs work defensively at first base, but that’s not surprising given that he made the switch to the position during the season. As well, his miscues in the field seemed more experience-driven as opposed to being born of physical limitations. A full spring training at the position would no doubt resolve much of that. As well, Schwarber’s left-handedness means that Dalbec could still find a path to platoon duty.





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Joel Klatt answers your questions from the mailbag | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt answered your questions from the mailbag. He answered your questions about football, fandoms and talks about his infamous notebooks again!



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Michigan, USC, Oklahoma & Penn State among Joel Klatt's surprises of National Signing Day

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Joel Klatt discusses which programs surprised him from National Signing Day. He talked about the USC Trojans and Lincoln Riley landed at No. 8 overall class. Joel explained why he was surprised with USC and discussed they needed to get more defensive players. His next surprise was the Michigan Wolverines landing at No. 19 overall despite two straight CFP appearances. Joel explained that Michigan and USC utilized the transfer portal very well. Joel discussed Penn State, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech’s signing day rankings and how this benefits their programs.



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SEC and Big 12 claim the most 5-star recruits on 2023 National Signing Day | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt discussed where 5-star recruits signed on national signing day. 21 of them went to the SEC, seven of them went to the Big 12, five went to the PAC-12, four went to the ACC and one went to the Big Ten. Joel says the Alabama Crimson Tide had the best recruiting class, signing 9 of the 39 5-star recruits. Joel talked about how NIL deals are affecting recruiting and how programs across the country are approaching it.



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