Boston Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow has repeatedly informed the media of his intentions to retool the rotation with an influx of external talent. However, all the new leader of baseball operations has done so far is watch the market slowly deplete in front of him.
One intriguing arm heavily linked to the Red Sox during the Winter Meetings has fallen off the board.
“Right-hander Seth Lugo and the Kansas City Royals are in agreement on a three-year, $45 million contract,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Tuesday. Lugo posted a 3.57 ERA with a 140-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a .249 batting average against with a 1.20 WHIP in 146 1/3 innings pitched across 26 games for the San Diego Padres last season.
At one point, the Red Sox appeared to be the frontrunner for the 34-year-old starter.
“Red Sox stepping up efforts on free agent right-handed pitcher Seth Lugo,” the New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported last week. “Four or five others, including (Atlanta) Braves, interested.” The Red Sox could have shifted their efforts to go big-game hunting for Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Jordan Montgomery — but given their track record, it’s fair to think pessimistically.
Boston has pursued Lugo two offseasons in a row and failed to land him both times. It’s still early to pull the plug on the 2024 season as many impact free agents remain available. With that said, the fans are rightfully impatient and losing a bidding war to the Royals is not going to aid matters.
It’s very possible that Breslow and company do not value Lugo at that price point but the optics behind the move do not look great. Heyman’s report implies that they did have serious interest in the hurler before they lost out.
We’ll have to see if the Red Sox can acquire some notable starters and shift the narrative that winning no longer remains the priority. There’s still plenty of time on the clock.