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MLB insider hints Boston Red Sox ‘unlikely’ to sign two premium MLB free agents

Matt Johnson
MLB: Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox finished last in the AL East in 2022, sending them into MLB free agency at a pivotal point for the organization. There is significant impact talent available both via trade and on the open market, but Boston’s options might be limited.

Boston is no longer the big spender it used to be. The team ranked sixth in payroll after the 2021 season ($202 million), behind teams like the New York Yankees Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros. In 2022, the Red Sox finished with the sixth-highest payroll once again and were passed by the San Diego Padres.

Related: Boston Red SOx ‘made offers’ to several free agents

Things could look even direr in the years ahead. Xander Bogaerts is a free agent and low-ball offers from Boston’s ownership could push him to a new team. Meanwhile, contract negotiations with AL MVP candidate Rafael Devers haven’t gone well.

Fans are anxiously waiting to see if executive Chaim Bloom spends this winter, taking advantage of a moment when Boston is currently projected for just $63 million in payroll right now (Spotrac). However, it seems two marquee targets at a position of need could be off the table.

Alex Speier of the Boston Globe wrote that AL MVP Aaron Judge is not expected to be among the Red Sox targets in free agency, in large part because of the bidding war to sign him. While not making a run at Judge isn’t entirely surprising, Brandon Nimmo might also not be a likely candidate to take over center field in Boston.

Speier explained that because signing Nimmo would require Boston to forfeit a top pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, it could make him too expensive for the organization.

Identifying outfield targets for Boston Red Sox

There are a few alternatives. Kevin Kiermaier, who played for the Tampa Bay Rays when Bloomed worked in the front office, remains outstanding defensively in center field. However, injuries have derailed the latter stages of his career and he is no longer an above-average contributor at the plate entering his age-33 season.

Related: Top MLB Free agents 2022-’23

Mitch Haniger, Wil Myers, Michael Conforto and AJ Pollock could be other alternatives in free agency. Unfortunately for Boston, none of those solutions address center field and they all carry red flags regarding their durability and inconsistency.

Instead, a trade might be the team’s best option. The Arizona Diamondbacks already had a surplus of young outfielders before acquiring Kyle Lewis from the Seattle Mariners. With Lewis now joining the mix, Daulton Varsho could become a trade candidate who would fit perfectly into Boston’s roster-building approach and payroll.

Related: Boston Red Sox expressed interest in All-Star outfielder