The Boston Red Sox didn’t exactly have the campaign they were hoping to have in 2022. After making it all the way to the ALCS in 2021, the Sox completely fell apart in 2022. They struggled with injuries, regression to the mean, and a front office that had seemingly no desire to build off of their encouraging playoff run from the season before.
This offseason, things didn’t go much better for the Sox. They watched key members of their championship core in Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez head for the exit door, which was even worse when considering the team likely overpaid for free agents such as Masataka Yoshida and Kenley Jansen. The only saving grace was that Boston finally managed to sign Rafael Devers to a long-term extension.
Boston has been dealt a series of body blows over the past year, and a big reason for their 2022 struggles was due to players taking huge steps back from their successful 2021 campaign. While there has been a ton of turnover for the Sox on their roster this offseason, let’s take a look at three players who have stuck around that need to put together bounce back seasons if Boston wants to change their fortunes in 2023.
3. Alex Verdugo
It was always going to be tough for Alex Verdugo to fully appease Red Sox fans after he was the primary prospect coming back from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ill-fated Mookie Betts trade, which looked bad at the time and even worse now that Jeter Downs was released by Boston this offseason. Being the main piece of that deal, Verdugo’s expectations have always been sky-high during his time with the Sox.
Verdugo wasn’t necessarily bad in 2022 (.280 BA, 11 HR, 74 RBI, .732 OPS) but his play left a lot to be desired. Verdugo was expected to be a solid outfielder who could hit for a .300 average along with about 20 home runs a season, while playing strong defense. But Verdugo simply failed to make any sort of real impact last season, and it killed Boston’s hopes of making it back to the playoffs.
Verdugo’s charismatic personality has helped him buy time to figure things out from an irritated fanbase, but he’s going to have to be better in 2023, especially considering all the talent that ran for the exits this offseason. If he produces at the same rate he did in 2022, it may not be long before Verdugo finds himself suiting up for a new team.