Oh, how quickly things can change. Just two and a half years ago, the Red Sox were on the top of the baseball world. Which in pandemic years, feels like a lifetime ago.
Here we are in 2021, and nothing is the same. A roster that seemed poised to have success in the years following the 2018 World Series, fell flat. 2019 and 2020 were both unsuccessful years for a club who should be in a spot to compete on a yearly basis. Not only did the quality of play fall off, but the number of players from that 2018 team began to drastically decline. Be it through free agency, trades or retirement, only 9 of the 25 players are left on the roster. Two of which, didn’t pitch in 2020 and their workload is uncertain heading into 2021.
16 players gone, just two seasons removed from a championship.
It’s not even like this was the 2013 team, one filled with veterans and older players who had just stopped in Boston for the year with the goal of winning a ring. This was a team that had multiple years of control on almost the entire roster, all of whom were roughly 30 or younger. Now, only a few integral pieces remain in Boston and to put it simply, it feels weird. This was a team that, at the time, seemed to be in a great position to repeat in 2019. At the very least, one that should’ve been competitive for multiple more seasons. So what happened? Well, let’s take a look.
2018 World Series Roster
Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart
Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Brock Holt, Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Núñez, Steve Pearce
Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez
Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Nathan Eovaldi, Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale
*Bold indicates the player is no longer with the team*
So there you have it, a World Series winning roster of just two years ago, almost completely decimated. That doesn’t even include guys like Brandon Workman, Brian Johnson, Tzu-Wei Lin or Brandon Phillips. All of whom contributed to the 2018 team but didn’t make the World Series roster. It also doesn’t include Dustin Pedroia, who did take ABs in the regular season but was hurt come playoff team. Even those five are also all gone now.
A lot of the players no longer with the team, were casualties of A) a new front office and B) financial constraints. Contracts to guys who are still here like Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and J.D. Martinez, made it harder to give contracts to guys who aren’t, mainly looking at you, Mookie.
The bulk of the rotation is gone, half of the infield is gone and after Wednesday’s trade the entire outfield is gone. Maybe JBJ reunites with the Red Sox for another stint, but for now he’s gone. Along with so many other crucial members of what is widely considered the best team in Red Sox history.
Hopefully this serves as a lesson to Chaim Bloom and the current Boston regime on what it means to build a sustainable championship model.
It was interesting watching former President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski go for it by trading the future away to get guys like Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel, and it worked out. The gamble paid off and the Sox won it all. However, now we see the aftermath of how that turns out. A team with minimal major league talent and even less in the farm system. A task the new front office has been steadily working on repairing.
The Boston Red Sox have seemed to follow this pattern of stink, stink, championship, stink, stink, championship and repeat. We’ve had the stink the last couple years, so hopefully Chaim’s first championship team is on the way and here’s hoping it’s through a more sustainable model.