Red Sox eliminated but victorious
During the 2021 MLB preseason, the Boston Red Sox were predicted to finish fourth in the American League (AL) East Division as a rebuilding year. They were projected to be a 79-83 record. With Chris Sale out because of Tommy John's surgery recovery, all eyes depended on J.D. Martinez to make a comeback for his terrible 2020 pandemic season. The only person to have a great season would be Rafael Devers.
The New York Yankees were predicted to be number one in the AL. Gerrit Cole could not lead the team as he lasted two innings pitched and gave up three earned runs in the wild card game versus the Red Sox. Power batters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton became another disappointment to their fans.
The Tampa Bay Rays' prediction to be the 8th best team can be considered accurate. They finished first place in the AL East with a 100-62 record. However, they lost in the ALDS by losing to the Red Sox 3 games to 1.
The Red Sox made it to Game 6 in the ALCS and lost to the Houston Astros. Red Sox manager Alex Cora (who returned to Boston after serving an MLB one-year suspension), managed the team with second-tier players. Red Sox fans were doubting about the 2021 season. But leave it to Cora; he led the organization and can be favorites for the 2022 season. Here is an outlook for next season:
Free Agents: Eduardo Rodriguez, Adam Ottavino, Christian Vasquez, Garrett Richards, Kyle Schwarber, Martin Perez, Jose Iglesias, Hansel Robles.
Eduardo Rodriguez - E-Rod finished with 13 wins, 8 losses, and an ERA 4.74. The ERA is the worst in his 6-year career. He had 8 games in which he did not last 5 innings pitched. It is questionable if E-Rod will remain as a Red Sox. Expect him to stay one more season should Chain Bloom not acquire a dominant starting pitcher.
Adam Ottavino will be 36 in the off-season. He pitched 69 games in which he earned 11 saves, 22 holds and blew 6 saves. Ottavino looked better than Matt Barnes, but his time in MLB may come soon. He is starting to decline as a reliable reliever.
Christian Vasquez - He is a motivator for the entire club. Vasquez has excellent control to have the pitchers focused in the game. As a batter, he went with a .258 average, 6 home runs, and 49 RBIs. Vasquez led the team with 8 stolen bases. Red Sox should sign Vasquez for another two years.
Garrett Richards - Richards had his worst season in his career. He came from San Diego to fill in for the absence of Chris Sale. Richards had all the signs of improvement in June. He went 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA. After MLB regulated the substances used on baseball, Richards' performance immediately dropped. His ERA for July went up with a 7.16. He is unreliable and more than likely receives a buyout offer and becomes a free agent.
Kyle Schwarber: The Outfielder learned how to be the first baseman. He earned respect to all Red Sox fans and organizations for elevating the offense. Schwarber was traded from the Washington Nationals and played 41 games with the Red Sox. He batted a .291 average with 7 HRs and 18 RBIs. Schwarber's motivation helped Bobby Dalbec to swing better. It is hard to say if he will remain with the Red Sox. Multiple sources state that Schwarber may test Free Agency to receive a considerable salary offer.
Martin Perez - He has seen his last days with the Red Sox. In his previous two appearances against the Astros, he gave up 4 ER 5 Runs in 1.1 innings pitched. It has been that type of season for him. Inconsistent at the mound and struggled to be a dominant pitcher, Perez was moved to the bullpen. It is time for him to be moved away to another organization.
Jose Iglesias - It is hard to determine if he will remain with the team. Triston Casas, Marcelo Mayer, and Jeter Downs are the top prospects in the infield. Iglesias batted a .356 average in 23 games. He has been with 5 baseball teams in four years.
Hansel Robles - He did come through in the postseason. However, he did demonstrate that if he has one solid game, Robles can mess it up the next game. Statistics have shown that Robles improved his ERA from 7.30 in August to 0.00 in September. Robles was not responsible for runners in scoring position that is credited to the previous pitcher. He does have a chance to stay in Boston.
Free Agency projected:
Red Sox needs help in the bullpen. Maybe these are the names to be considered in the short term:
Ian Kennedy (Closer)
AJ Ramos (Reliever)
Joe Kelly (Reliever - return to Boston)
Starling Marte (Outfielder)
Nick Castellanos (Outfielder) if Red Sox pays up.