What does the Red Sox middle infield look like in 2024?

pearccol

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Of the trade options my preference would be Drury. He plays good defense and he would enjoy hitting the ball at the green monster.

but my personal choice would be Rafaela. He is probably the best defensive in-house option and there would be less pressure on him offensively if he is only being asked to replace last years 2B production.

it definitely should improve our infield defense and is a relatively low pressure way to let Rafaela ease into the major leagues.
 

kazuneko

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Of the trade options my preference would be Drury. He plays good defense and he would enjoy hitting the ball at the green monster.

but my personal choice would be Rafaela. He is probably the best defensive in-house option and there would be less pressure on him offensively if he is only being asked to replace last years 2B production.

it definitely should improve our infield defense and is a relatively low pressure way to let Rafaela ease into the major leagues.
But that seems to end any chance of upgrading our OF defense (something that is also a big need). Duran to left and Rafaela to CF while Yoshida goes to DH would leave this team with an excellent OF (as long as they keep Verdugo).
 
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E5 Yaz

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Dustin Pedroia had 8 seasons with the Red Sox in which he started 130+ games at second base. Since the last of those seasons, in 2016, no Boston player has started even 100 games at 2B in any year.
 

LogansDad

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I wonder if Breslow has any interest in dealing with his old team, because either of Nick Madrigal or Nico Hoerner seems like they would be a great fit. I would rather have Hoerner, obviously, since Madrigal is another of the dreaded injury risk guys, but both are effective 2B's, and both have the Cubs' top draft pick from 2023 breathing down their necks (I would not be surprised to see Matt Shaw debut early this year, he is a monster). They also have Luis Vazquez knocking on the door after a big season across AA and AAA last year, but he also might be an option for a trade, as well.

This team really, really needs a second baseman who can hit somewhere near league average and play good defense. They can't have the same disaster out of the position that they had last year, and I think it is the most important position for them to fill outside of starting pitching.

(Note: I doubt the Cubs really have any interest in parting with Nico, but I wanted him in here because he is possibly my biggest non-Sox binky in the league. I love the way he plays baseball, and would support giving up basically anyone outside of the big 3 prospects for him).
 

nvalvo

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Madrigal would be very available, but it’s because he’s pretty bad. In retrospect, his decent years with the White Sox look like BABIP figments. But, as part of a larger offseason in which we’ve really improved SP and added a good RHH bat to DH or RF, sure.
 

Jack Rabbit Slim

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With the Padres outfield now Tatis and two question marks, does Duran for Kim get the Padres interested? FWIW, BTV shows Duran as twice as valuable but I have less confidence in that site every time I look at it.

Kim only has 1 year of control left @ $8M (2025 looks to be a mutual option) but would be a great bridge to Yorke/Mayer. The Padres already have Cronenworth to move back to 2B, where he would still have some value even if his bat doesn't bounce back. It would also save them $7M or so if they are still trying to cut payroll. I would even throw in Dalbec if they are interested in him for a 1B/DH platoon.
 

BigSoxFan

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With the Padres outfield now Tatis and two question marks, does Duran for Kim get the Padres interested? FWIW, BTV shows Duran as twice as valuable but I have less confidence in that site every time I look at it.

Kim only has 1 year of control left @ $8M (2025 looks to be a mutual option) but would be a great bridge to Yorke/Mayer. The Padres already have Cronenworth to move back to 2B, where he would still have some value even if his bat doesn't bounce back. It would also save them $7M or so if they are still trying to cut payroll. I would even throw in Dalbec if they are interested in him for a 1B/DH platoon.
SD would hang up before Breslow said 5 words. If SD put Kim on the market, they’d get a much better centerpiece than Duran.
 

moondog80

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SD would hang up before Breslow said 5 words. If SD put Kim on the market, they’d get a much better centerpiece than Duran.
Disagree hard. 5 years v 1 year. BTV is not the final authority but in this case it supports my argument so I'll cite it: Duran at 34 and Kim at 17.9.
 

BigSoxFan

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Disagree hard. 5 years v 1 year. BTV is not the final authority but in this case it supports my argument so I'll cite it: Duran at 34 and Kim at 17.9.
I guess I’ll disagree with your disagreement even harder. Duran is 27. He had unsustainable BABIP luck. He’s not some prized trade chip and I disagree heavily with BTV’s valuation but I guess we’ll just have to see.
 

jon abbey

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Listening to Preller last night, I don't think he wants to dump money much more (although I'm sure he'd be happy to move Cronenworth). I was going to suggest that Breslow might consider the ballsy move of taking on Manny Machado's giant deal if they sent Musgrove or Darvish along with him (Devers to DH) in exchange for second tier prospects, but not sure Preller is even considering that kind of drastic teardown.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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I guess I’ll disagree with your disagreement even harder. Duran is 27. He had unsustainable BABIP luck. He’s not some prized trade chip and I disagree heavily with BTV’s valuation but I guess we’ll just have to see.
He’s also got some other concerns which unfortunately probably don’t help his value, right?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Listening to Preller last night, I don't think he wants to dump money much more (although I'm sure he'd be happy to move Cronenworth). I was going to suggest that Breslow might consider the ballsy move of taking on Manny Machado's giant deal if they sent Musgrove or Darvish along with him (Devers to DH) in exchange for second tier prospects, but not sure Preller is even considering that kind of drastic teardown.
If Bloom was hated around here because his first big move was trading Mookie Betts away, how is Breslow going to be regarded if his first big move is acquiring Pedroia's career killer Manny Machado? That would certainly be, as you say, a ballsy move.
 

chawson

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Jennings and McCaffrey co-byline this afternoon in The Athletic:

“According to two people with knowledge of the situation, the Red Sox have considered Whit Merrifield and touched base with his representatives. Still, talks have been largely preliminary with no current traction toward a deal, though that could change as the market begins to move and the Red Sox settle on a more definitive direction.”
 

SouthernBoSox

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Jennings and McCaffrey co-byline this afternoon in The Athletic:

“According to two people with knowledge of the situation, the Red Sox have considered Whit Merrifield and touched base with his representatives. Still, talks have been largely preliminary with no current traction toward a deal, though that could change as the market begins to move and the Red Sox settle on a more definitive direction.”
Whit Merrifield would be a compete and total waste of resources. He isn’t good at baseball anymore.
 

kazuneko

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Whit Merrifield would be a compete and total waste of resources. He isn’t good at baseball anymore.
If the goal of the off-season is to be moderately more competitive, while doing nothing to hurt the team’s long-term future (by trading prospects or signing free agents with qualifying offers) than older veterans on cheaper, short-term deals might be the approach they choose. Of course, that’s what Bloom was doing - and he got fired - so it would definitely be a bit confusing if Breslow does the same.
That said, Merrifield is definitely not a total waste of resources, as he would have been hugely helpful last year when the Sox had the worst second base defense in the majors. His OAA has been consistently good at 2b: he was +4 last year, +2 the year before and +6 in 21’. He’s also right-handed.
It’s an uninspiring move but if they aren’t interested in trading for someone better he’s probably their best option.
 
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simplicio

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I'd honestly rather hand the job to Rafaela and I'm not sure if he'll ever hit; it's hard to see Merrifield's trajectory as anything but downward and we aren't starting from a high point.
 

jacklamabe65

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If the goal of the off-season is to be moderately more competitive, while doing nothing to hurt the team’s long-term future (by trading prospects or signing free agents with qualifying offers) than older veterans on cheaper, short-term deals might be the approach they choose. Of course, that’s what Bloom was doing - and he got fired - so it would definitely be a bit confusing if Breslow does the same.
That said, Merrifield is definitely not a total waste of resources, as he would have been hugely helpful last year when the Sox had the worst second base defense in the majors. His OAA has been consistently good at 2b: he was +4 last year, +2 the year before and +6 in 21’. He’s also right-handed.
It’s an uninspiring move but if they aren’t interested in trading for someone better he’s probably their best option.
The difference is that Breslow has already altered the pitching philosophy and has begun addressing the generational weakness of the organization. Chaim had proven that pitching was secondary to everyday position players. Those of us who followed the team for 40 years before 2004 used to say, "If only we had pitching." Accordingly, I am watching what Craig does with pitching this offseason, both short-term and long-term.
 

Rich Garces Belly

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I saw on X that Morosi reported the Twins are listening to multiple offers for Jorge Polanco. He has position versatility at short, second, and third while switch hitting. What are the thoughts on Polanco and the cost?
 

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Heating up in the bullpen

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I saw on X that Heyman reported the Twins are listening to multiple offers for Jorge Polanco. He has position versatility at short, second, and third while switch hitting. What are the thoughts on Polanco and the cost?
BTV has Polanco's AFV (Adjusted Field Value) at $31.9M and his salary at $22.5M, for a surplus value of $9.4M.
Similarly valued (ballpark) Red Sox players are Winckowski (9.1 SV), Schreiber (9.7), Pivetta (9.0), Wilyer Abreu (7.8), Yoelin Cespedes (7.1), C Rafaela (12.3), E Valdez (8.1), and Yorke (13.3).
Valdez plus one or two lottery tickets would look good to me.
 

simplicio

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I saw on X that Morosi reported the Twins are listening to multiple offers for Jorge Polanco. He has position versatility at short, second, and third while switch hitting. What are the thoughts on Polanco and the cost?
Polanco seems fine and does have another option for 2025, but his defense sucks so if we're trading for a short term 2B I'd really like to check on Drury first.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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BTV has Polanco's AFV (Adjusted Field Value) at $31.9M and his salary at $22.5M, for a surplus value of $9.4M.
Similarly valued (ballpark) Red Sox players are Winckowski (9.1 SV), Schreiber (9.7), Pivetta (9.0), Wilyer Abreu (7.8), Yoelin Cespedes (7.1), C Rafaela (12.3), E Valdez (8.1), and Yorke (13.3).
Valdez plus one or two lottery tickets would look good to me.
Any reason you chose Valdez in particular? I assume the Twins are shopping Polanco because they have an abundance of infielders, including a couple of their top prospects on the cusp of the big leagues. I have to think Valdez doesn't really move their needle. Not as much as Pivetta or Winckowski might considering they've lost two starters to free agency already this winter.
 

YTF

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Polanco seems fine and does have another option for 2025, but his defense sucks so if we're trading for a short term 2B I'd really like to check on Drury first.
I'm deferring to you when I ask, if his defense sucks why would he seem fine? I know there has been some previous success at the plate and as they say, "that ain't nothin'" but this team needs to improve the defense up the middle.
 

simplicio

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Sadly, you can suck at defense and still be an improvement on Valdez (and a RHB).
 

simplicio

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Right, but it's the RHB part that's the big draw for the team as currently composed.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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Any reason you chose Valdez in particular? I assume the Twins are shopping Polanco because they have an abundance of infielders, including a couple of their top prospects on the cusp of the big leagues. I have to think Valdez doesn't really move their needle. Not as much as Pivetta or Winckowski might considering they've lost two starters to free agency already this winter.
I was thinking more about what I'm comfortable with than with the Twins want/need. Until we sign some other pitchers I'm reluctant to trade any. Polanco for Valdez looks like a swap of an older, costlier hit-first infielder for a younger, cheaper one.
I also wasn't thinking so much about whether the Sox should want Polanco when I posted, just what a trade value might look like. Checking into his defense a little, UZR doesn't like him at 2B (from Fangraphs), nor does OAA (from Baseball Savant). Since I thnk shoring up the infield defense is one of the most important jobs of this off-season, I'd pass on Polanco.
 

Hee Sox Choi

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Twins already have a good hitting/bad D 2b in Edouard Julien. They have zero need of Enmanuel Valdez.
I like Polanco and his massive walk rate.
 

JM3

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Twins already have a good hitting/bad D 2b in Edouard Julien. They have zero need of Enmanuel Valdez.
I like Polanco and his massive walk rate.
The interesting thing is that he doesn't walk much against lefties.

Career stats:
RHB against lefties: 4.6% walk rate, 96 wRC+
LHB against righties: 10.4% walk rate, 118 wRC+

2023:
RHB against lefties: 3.3% walk rate, 128 wRC+
LHB against righties: 13.1% walk rate, 115 wRC+

I'm a bit concerned that he's already a bad & slow defensive 2B & how that is going to look as he ages, but he's not a bad option if the price is right.
 

kazuneko

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Now that Ohtani is going to Toronto can we expect the Angels to begin their fire sale? Hopefully that leads to Brandon Drury on the Sox soon..
 

The Gray Eagle

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The Athletic has a look at second base trade options:
https://theathletic.com/5135228/2023/12/14/red-sox-trade-second-baseman-options/

The Red Sox defense last season posted a minus-51 Outs Above Average, the worst in the league and the second-worst team defense of 240 total teams since Statcast began tracking OAA in 2016.
A full year of Trevor Story at shortstop (assuming he can remain healthy for the whole season) will go a long way toward shoring up the infield. The Red Sox will continue to work with Triston Casas at first and Rafael Devers at third, both of whom they’ve said will not be moving off their respective positions for 2024. On Wednesday, the team also reportedly signed strong defensive catcher Roberto Pérez to a minor-league deal.
But the most significant way to enhance the infield defense is at second base. And while it’s a secondary concern to the rotation, it’s still a concern.
They've considered free agents like Merrifield, but a trade would be more likely.
Breslow said that while he’s engaged with free-agent second basemen, “it seems more likely that that would be a trade pursuit.”
That doesn’t mean the Red Sox aren’t considering free agent Whit Merrifield, whose .700 OPS and 4 OAA at second last year were solid, it just sounds “more likely,” in Breslow’s words, they’ll find a second baseman via the trade route.
The ideal second baseman?
“Ideally, it would be a right-handed bat who plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, but we will try to address this as best we can,” Breslow added. “I think the one thing we’re pretty confident in, (we have) a pretty talented and deep lineup that has shown consistently that we can put runs on the board. So, we need to be mindful of the impact that our infield defense will have on our starting pitching group, especially one that has tended to rely on managing soft contact.”
The last part there, about the impact of the infield defense managing soft contact, is a telling nugget, particularly with ground-ball pitchers like Brayan Bello and an older version of Chris Sale, who relies more on contact than strikeouts these days.
There aren't likely any gold glove caliber second baseman who can hit who are on the market, so we probably aren't going to get an ideal solution. But it sounds like they are looking for defense and a RH bat who could be platoonable if they aren't a great hitter.

Some potential targets:
Evaluators often rely more heavily on Outs Above Average for a comprehensive defensive grade as compared to Defensive Runs Saved so we’ll use that here. Among qualified second basemen ranking in the top 10 last season potential trade candidates Ha-Seong Kim with 7 OAA and Brandon Drury with 5 OAA ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.
The top six second basemen in OAA were Thairo Estrada (20), Andrés Giménez (18), Bryson Stott (17), Marcus Semien (15), Nico Hoerner (13) and José Caballero (7).
Gimenez, Stott, and Semien and Hoerner would either be unavailable or would demand a huge return.
Estrada may be slightly more attainable but the Giants don't really have a need to trade him either.

There aren’t many obvious areas where the Red Sox and Giants overlap, but since Estrada is so good defensively and the Giants are in a bit of a transition, it’s a name worth keeping an eye on.
Drury seems like a good fit but who knows what the Angels are even doing:
With one year and $8.5 million left on his deal with the Los Angeles Angels, Drury seems like a very good fit. A solid right-handed bat who posted an .803 OPS last year and played well above average defense would be what Boston is looking for. But matching up with the Angels might be a problem. The Angels are searching for a corner outfielder, backend bullpen help and a lefty bat. The Red Sox have all three of those and while Drury would only be in Boston for one year, there’s surely somewhere they can match up. Verdugo seemed like a great fit, but perhaps the Angels weren’t interested. Regardless, this is a situation to watch this offseason.
Kim is a really good player but the article speculates he could be available-- for a steep price of course:
Kim, meanwhile, is also a right-handed hitter and is in the final year of a four-year, $28 million deal with a mutual option for 2025. Coming off a season in which he posted a .749 OPS and 110 OPS+, he could be another trade option for the Red Sox and one that would leave the door open for Mayer and Yorke. The San Diego Padres are very much in transition. After trading Juan Soto and Trent Grisham, they likely could use outfield help and they’re also in the market for bullpen arms, particularly set-up men. The Red Sox seemingly could find a fit to bring Kim to Boston.
Seems like both teams could see some interest in Yorke for Kim, with other players in the package. If we trade for Kim and extend him, then that would make up for the loss of Yorke in the future. SD would save money and get a good prospect for the future. But I'd expect that would be an unpopular deal for the Padres fans, right after trading Soto for prospects, so it might be a hard sell.

Seem like the simplest thing would be to trade for Drury. But again, what do the Angels even want?
 

chawson

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There's some whispers I'm seeing that Noelvi Marte on the Reds could be available. Marte's a former top prospect the Reds got in the Castillo trade. I think a few scouts have soured on him, not sure why.

Everyone expects Jonathan India to be traded but I don't think anyone believes he can play 2B. Regardless, the Reds seem like they gotta move someone. I don't buy that Jeimer Candelario is going to play first base if they've got Christian Encarnacion-Strand ready. So that means they've got Marte, McLain, Candelario or Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer, Jose Barrero, India and potentially emerging mega-star Elly De La Cruz spread between 2B/3B/SS, with guys like Cam Collier (3B), Edwin Arroyo (SS), Tyler Callihan (2B) and Sal Stewart (3B) not far off.

And they are competing, which is great. Maybe they'd consider something like Houck and Mata for Noelvi Marte?
 

moondog80

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Brandon Drury has had a negative dWAR pretty much every year of his career and has been so well thought of as a fielder that he's played less than 50% of his innings at 2B. I'm going to need more than one year of a good OAA to believe that he's a legit fielder. He might still be the best option, but at 8.5 million, he's not worth a legit prospect on top of that.
 

Big Papi's Mango Salsa

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@chawson I want to love this idea, but I think they'd get a heck of a lot more than Tanner Houck for Marte (and Mata has to be pretty much as worthless in a trade at this point as he is for Boston).

A scenario where the Red Sox end up with Marte is great, but I don't think any pitcher the Red Sox have to use as a centerpiece (outside of Bello, which we obviously wouldn't do) gets them to part with Marte.
 

nvalvo

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Weird take from Jen M that Sale “relies more on contact than strikeouts.” I mean, that’s true of any pitcher with a K% under 50%, which is basically everyone except the best seasons of elite closers.

I guess his K% has fallen from its peak (38%) and he hasn’t led the league in the category for a few years, but he was at 29.4% last season, a figure which would have placed second among AL starters behind Gausman if he’d had enough IP to qualify.

That’s a strikeout pitcher by anyone’s standards, I’d say.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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The Athletic has a look at second base trade options:
https://theathletic.com/5135228/2023/12/14/red-sox-trade-second-baseman-options/
Seems like both teams could see some interest in Yorke for Kim, with other players in the package. If we trade for Kim and extend him, then that would make up for the loss of Yorke in the future. SD would save money and get a good prospect for the future. But I'd expect that would be an unpopular deal for the Padres fans, right after trading Soto for prospects, so it might be a hard sell.
I'm not sure the Padres would have much interest in Yorke. If they trade Kim, they'll shift Cronenworth back to 2B and look for a more potent bat to play 1B. I think Duran or Rafaela would more likely be the guys the Padres would target in a deal. Kim is a big fan favorite here in San Diego, and I think they'd be pretty hesitant to trade him even with 1 year left on his deal. Something built around Rafaela. a pitcher in the Wink/Schreiber/Whitlock/PIvetta group and maybe a 3rd piece could get their attention.

Edit: San Diego also has Jackson Merrill getting close to the bigs as another middle infield option, so that's another reason Yorke isn't likely to interest the Pads.