The first major acquisition of the Boston Red Sox offseason is…Theo Epstein?
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the former Red Sox general manager who helped break the “Curse of the Bambino” is joining Fenway Sports Group as a senior advisor. While Epstein is not in charge of personnel decisions, he is expected to “carry enormous weight” in navigating the Red Sox future.
On one hand, Epstein knows how to build baseball teams. His two major front-office roles came with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. In both cases, Epstein’s management helped break championship droughts of 86 years and 71 years, respectively.
On the other hand, the Epstein move is too little, too late for the 2024 season. After the Red Sox finished 2023 with their third losing record in four seasons and fired general manager Chaim Bloom, Red Sox ownership committed to a new, more aggressive approach to roster building in 2024.
“We know that we have to be competitive next year,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said during the introductory press conference for chief baseball officer Craig Breslow. “So we’re going to be competitive next year. We’re going to have be full-throttle in every possible way.”
When asked about spending on high-end starting pitchers in free agency, Werner responded: “Let me just say that we don’t have any built-in restrictions.”
That was on Nov. 2, 2023. Three months later to the day, what has “full throttle” gotten the Red Sox? Their lone pitching acquisition is former Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Lucas Giolito. The deal on paper is a two-year, $38.5 million contract, but the 2025 opt-out really makes it one year for $18 million.
Beyond that, Boston has missed out almost entirely on free agency. They were linked as “interested” to players like dual-threat phenom Shohei Ohtani and Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Neither manifested. The Red Sox offered a short-term contract with more guaranteed money to Japanese pitcher Shota Imanaga. He wanted a longer-term deal and went with the Cubs’ offer. It’s the same pattern of unserious spending that saw the Red Sox trade Mookie Betts and low-ball Xander Bogaerts.
Since the Red Sox won their last World Series in 2018, the Fenway Sports Group has built a music hall among other developments inside Fenway, became a minority shareholder in SpringHill entertainment company, purchased the Pittsburgh Penguins, and most recently struck a deal with the PGA.
In other words, they aren’t focused on baseball right now. When The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was asked if the Red Sox were trying this offseason, his reply was simple: “No.”
So yes, Epstein may be a man who can help build a competent team in the long term, but the hiring this late is the Boston Red Sox openly admitting they are punting on 2024.
Original source here
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