Out of leftfield: the sudden struggles of the Boston Red Sox
Jake Elmslie, Sports Editor
11 months ago, the Boston Red Sox were riding high into the playoffs, having just completed a 108 win regular season, the best in franchise history. That team of course went on to win the 2018 World Series with relative ease and looked poised to be a contender for the foreseeable future. As of Sept. 21st, 2019, The Red Sox have been eliminated from the playoffs. They do not currently have a team president and the future of their best player, best pitcher and possibly best hitter are murkier than they have ever been.
What exactly caused this sudden collapse is not totally clear, although it would be foolhardy to try and pin it on any one singularity. The bullpen could have and should have been reinforced. However, that does not excuse regression from nearly every player offensively, save for Xander Boegarts and Rafael Devers. The bats may of cooled off relative to last season but that does not excuse nearly every starting pitcher falling short of their 2018 performance.
Overall, the Boston Red Sox fielded a team with World Series caliber talent and yet will finish the season with a record barley above .500. Whether their failings were due to a World Series hangover, overconfidence from players and management or a shift in training regimens for the pitching staff, the organization now enters an offseason that will almost certainly serve as some sort of reset.
The first order of business will be cutting down their league high 229 million dollar payroll in order to avoid incurring the repeat offender luxury tax. After that, the Red Sox futures of both 2018 MVP Mookie Betts and team home run leader, J.D. Martinez, will come front and center. Betts will be entering the final year of his rookie contract and now it is the time for the Red Sox to decide whether he is a player they want to invest in a superstar level contract in or, if they are unsure of his future potential or willingness to stay in Boston, pull the trigger on trading Betts to reload the barren farm system. Meanwhile, Martinez will have the ability to opt out of the final three years of his contract this offseason and if he chooses to do so, Boston will have to decide if the 32-year-old is a player they want to invest more than the 20 million per year he is currently slated to make.
Even if the team is able to find a satisfactory solution to both of these conundrums, the organization will still have a long way to go in answering the plethora of questions up and down the pitching staff, positional players, farm system and the front office. With all that in mind, Red Sox fans should look to the 2020 season with adjusted expectations and patience.