After an exciting season for the Red Sox, who fell two wins away from reaching the World Series, it will be interesting to see what steps the club takes to strengthen itself after all the success of 2021.
As always, there are questions with the offseason. Here are three of them, after Kyle Schwarber became a free agent this week.
What will happen to E-Rod?
In six seasons, Eduardo Rodríguez has made 157 starts for the Red Sox, including the postseason. Will there be more outings in Boston in your future? We will know soon. Rodriguez will be a free agent this year for the first time. There seems to be a good chance that the team will make you a qualifying offer. That could extend the union for one more season and give Rodriguez a chance to have a better year before testing the market, after going 13-8 with a 4.74 ERA in 2021.
Despite his occasional inconsistency, Rodriguez has shown that he can succeed in a market like Boston. He pitched well in his last crucial start of the regular season and in his last two postseason outings.
What will be the roles of Whitlock and Houck?
Garrett Whitlock ended up being one of the most notable cases of players chosen in the Rule 5 Draft in Major League Baseball history. The right-hander was a bullpen horse for manager Alex Cora, posting a 1.96 ERA in 46 appearances. The Red Sox handled him with care because he was coming off Tommy John surgery. Now, they’ll be open to using him more, and that could include reusing him in his natural role as a starter.
Rookie flamethrower Tanner Houck had his great moments as a starter and coming from the bullpen. Will you have the opportunity to join the full-time rotation in 2022? The club’s plans with Whitlock and Houck for the upcoming season could dictate whether Bloom is more aggressive when it comes to going for starters or relievers this winter.
Can Barnes rebound?
Matt Barnes looked headed for his best season in 2021. In the first three months of the season, he shot brilliantly, with 18 saves and a 2.57 ERA, while limiting opponents to a .165 batting average in 35 appearances. After that, it all went the other way around and the right-hander posted 5.95 after July 1, with just six saves and a WHIP of 1.62 during those last three months. The fact that the Red Sox gave Barnes a two-year extension in July makes that slump particularly worrisome.
Cora said the Red Sox already have a plan outlined for Barnes for this offseason. How much can Bloom count on that works when it comes to assessing what she needs to do to improve her relief in the winter? In any case, Bloom needs to repower her relief corps. That Barnes rally would be key, regardless of what movements are made in these months.
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Three questions for the Red Sox