In an effort to rebound from a disappointing last-place season in 2014, the Boston Red Sox made a number of significant additions this offseason. The Red Sox bolstered their lineup with a pair of All-Stars, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Boston also filled out its rotation with starting pitchers Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson.
What does the future hold for these players in a Red Sox uniform? No one knows for sure, but the least we can do right now is try to guess. Here are predictions for how each of the key acquisitions' time in Boston will turn out.
The Red Sox signed Masterson to a one-year deal with a base salary of $9.5 million. With incentives, it could be worth up to $12 million:
Masterson is a bit of an enigma. He's held right-handed hitters to a .220 average over the course of his career, but left-handers hit .287 against him. His ERAs for the past five seasons are 4.70, 3.21, 4.93, 3.45 and 5.88. By that pattern, the righty is due for a bounce-back season in 2015. On the other hand, he could easily still be the same pitcher who posted a horrendous 1.63 WHIP last year.
Given his difficulty with lefties and the large number of young, up-and-coming arms in Boston's organization, if Masterson's 2014 struggles continue, he may quickly find himself in a situational bullpen role.
Prediction: One mostly disappointing and overpaid season pitching primarily in relief.
The 28-year-old Miley is under Red Sox team control through 2017. Barring a trade, he should be in Boston's rotation for at least the next three years. Over his three full seasons as a major league starter, Miley owns a 3.74 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. However, both of those numbers have risen each year. The transition from the National League to the American League isn't likely to help in that matter, either.
Miley's durability is consistent—he threw 194.2 innings in 2012, 202.2 in 2013 and 201.1 in 2014. While he may be useful enough to keep in the rotation, the Red Sox might not want to spend money on Miley when he hits free agency at the end of 2017.
Prediction: Three seasons as a No. 4-type starter, a .500 record and an ERA around 4.50.
In avoiding arbitration, the Red Sox and Porcello recently agreed to a one-year, $12.5 million contract. Porcello will be a free agent after 2015.
Last season, Porcello put up very solid numbers with the Detroit Tigers, posting a career-best 3.43 ERA over a career-high 204.2 innings. Porcello also led the AL in shutouts with three. Even though he has six full years of major league experience under his belt, Porcello is still only 26 years old and could be just now entering his prime.
Braden Campbell of Boston.com writes:
Porcello likely has his best baseball ahead of him. His control (1.8 BB/9 in 2013) is as good as anyone's, and his ability to generate ground balls at a near-50 percent clip pairs well with a defensive infield expected to be strong.
His aforementioned strikeout rate is disappointing, but there's a lot to be said for keeping pitch counts low, as Porcello often does.
With any luck, Boston will have learned a lesson from its failure to re-sign Jon Lester and may look to lock up Porcello long term before he hits the open market.
Prediction: Six seasons, two All-Star appearances, one 20-win season, two Opening Day starts and a record in the neighborhood of 90-55.
The Red Sox inked Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million deal that will become five years and $110 million if he gets 1,050 plate appearances over 2017 and 2018 combined. Considering the 31-year-old Ramirez amassed 525 or more plate appearances just once in the last four seasons, it seems unlikely he'll average that number at ages 33 and 34.
As reported by WEEI's Rob Bradford, Boston manager John Farrell intends to bat Ramirez cleanup this season, behind David Ortiz and ahead of Sandoval. At least for the short term, Ramirez will have plenty of opportunity to put up numbers.
From 2007-2010, Ramirez hit .319 while averaging 27 home runs, 82 RBI and 36 steals in 150 games per season. However, his 2011-2014 averages are .277, 17 home runs, 66 RBI, 16 steals and 116 games played.
Prediction: Four years similar to the previous four. One All-Star appearance, one 20-homer season and roughly one full season of missed games.
Boston signed Sandoval to a five-year deal worth $95 million. Via Mass Live's Jason Mastrodonato, here's what Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said the day the team introduced Sandoval:
His approach, we believe, fits the ballpark well. As we've mentioned before -- he's a line drive hitter who puts the ball in play a lot, hits a lot of balls to left and left-center. There's just a lot about it that appealed to us.
Obviously, a 28-year-old. And third base has been a position we've been trying to figure out now for a couple of years. We have some talented players that have been involved at third base and given opportunities, but this was an opportunity to add just a really good player, a great person and a great fit for our team at a position of need.
Even though Sandoval is only 28, there's a possibility his best years are behind him. Over the past four seasons, his on-base percentages (.357, .342, .341, .324) and slugging percentages (.552, .447, .417, .415) have fallen every year.
Despite his declining regular-season numbers, Sandoval was spectacular in both the 2012 and 2014 postseasons. He hit a combined .365 with a .404 on-base percentage and a .584 slugging percentage in 33 games while helping the San Francisco Giants win two World Series titles.
Prediction: Five moderately productive years with a .275 average, one 100-RBI season, one All-Star appearance and one playoff series MVP award.