The 2014 MLB winter meetings have come and gone, with the Boston Red Sox as one of the event’s most active participants.

Now that the dust has settled in San Diego, it’s time to evaluate Boston’s offseason to this point.  Below are individual grades for each move the Red Sox have made, as well as an overall assessment of their performance.


Re-signed Koji Uehara for Two Years, $18 Million

At first glance, two more seasons at $9 million each seems like an awful lot to pay for a reliever who will turn 40 years old next April.  But the qualifying offer it likely would’ve taken to keep Koji Uehara for one season was set at $15.3 million.  By comparison, the two-year contract is fairly cheap.

However, after giving Boston multiple seasons of outstanding bullpen work, Uehara struggled mightily down the stretch last year.  Over his final nine appearances, he gave up 15 hits and 10 earned runs in just 7.2 innings.  There’s a reasonable chance Uehara‘s days as an effective closer may be over.

Grade: B


Signed Pablo Sandoval for Five Years, $95 Million

Heading into the offseason, third base was a major area of concern for the Red Sox.  In 2014, Boston’s players at the position batted a combined .211 with a .271 on-base percentage and .308 slugging percentage.

Pablo Sandoval was the cream of the crop for free-agent third basemen.  In six full years in the big leagues, he’s averaged 17 home runs and 73 RBI per season while batting .292.  But his OBP has fallen in each of the last four years, from .357 to .342 to .341 to .324.  His slugging percentage is also in decline, dropping from .552 in 2011 to just .415 last season.

If these trends continue, the Red Sox may regret Sandoval’s $19 million average salary in the latter years of his contract.

Grade: B+


Signed Hanley Ramirez for Four Years, $88 Million

The Boston Red Sox spent $22 million per season on a shortstop when they already have Xander Bogaerts in line to play the position for years to come.  The plan looks to be to move Hanley Ramirez to left field, but Boston’s roster is already overflowing with outfielders as it is.

Even though the Ramirez signing fills a hole that doesn’t exist, adding a big bat to the lineup is always a plus.  Ramirez is a career .300 hitter with a .373 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage.  He is on the wrong side of 30, though, and is no longer the player who averaged nearly 25 home runs and 40 stolen bases from 2006 to 2010.

Grade: B-


Traded Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and a Minor Leaguer to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Wade Miley

In 174.1 innings spanning four seasons, Rubby De La Rosa has an 8-15 career record with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.  Allen Webster has pitched 89.1 innings in the big leagues with a 6.25 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP.

Wade Miley owns three full seasons of experience as a major league starter, posting a 38-35 record with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.

In this deal, the Red Sox likely gave up two players with middle-of-the-rotation potential for a guy who is already there.  Considering Boston only had one pitcher on its roster with more than 50 starts in the majors (Clay Buchholz), adding some experience was a necessary move.

Grade: B+


Traded Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello

The Red Sox had Yoenis Cespedes, Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava all lined up to play in the outfield in 2015.  Trading away Cespedes begins to bring some clarity to that dilemma.

Despite being a fixture in the Detroit Tigers’ rotation since 2009, Rick Porcello is still just 25 years old.  Via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said of Porcello:

We’ve had a pretty strong combination of scouting and analytics work on him. We feel he’s been one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. He sort of got buried in the names in Detroit. He’s been really good in his own right. Given his age, we feel there may be more upside. Even what he is right now we think is really going to help us. … 

If we had known in July that we weren’t going to sign Jon Lester, I think we would’ve been happy to trade him for Rick Porcello. I guess this is sort of the net-net. We’re excited to have Rick on board.

A free agent after 2015, Boston got Cespedes for Lester last summer.  More on Lester shortly.

Grade: A-


Signed Justin Masterson for One Year, $9.5 Million

In Justin Masterson, the Red Sox reacquired a pitcher who began his career with Boston back in 2008.  The right-hander struggled this past season, putting up a 5.88 ERA and 1.63 WHIP with the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals.  

Grantland‘s Jonah Keri called the signing “a classic buy-low move,” writing: “At his best, Masterson has one-strikeout-per-inning stuff, with enough command to make him an effective innings eater (he hurled 206.1 frames in 2012 and 193 in 2013 before his injury-plagued debacle season in 2014). At his worst, he’s an injury risk and potential arsonist at Fenway.”

Due to his sidearm delivery, Masterson is extremely effective against right-handed batters:

He’s also held righties to a .220 average over the course of his career.  On the other hand, lefties have hit .287 against Masterson, including a ridiculous .320 in 2014.  Masterson is a $9.5 million arm who may be best suited for a situational role out of the bullpen.

Grade: B



The Red Sox added a top-of-the-line third baseman in Sandoval.  They replaced one big bat (Cespedes) in the outfield with another (Ramirez).  Boston also brought in three potential starting pitchers without dealing away any of their top prospects.

But after the trade of Lester in July, far and away the biggest need the Red Sox had was to get their hands on a new ace to lead the rotation.  None of the pitchers they’ve added (Miley, Porcello and Masterson) are anything resembling a bona fide No. 1 starter.

Boston was reportedly close to wooing Lester back, but he chose the Chicago Cubs instead:

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Red Sox fan who wouldn’t have preferred to see Boston pay Lester $25-26 million for each of the next six years rather than Ramirez $22 million annually for the next four.

It’s very difficult to consider the Red Sox’s offseason a success so far when they have yet to address their most glaring weakness.

Grade: C


Statistics courtesy of, with contract information via

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