(Kim Klement - USA Today: Sports)
2016 record: 93-69
Key Additions: SP Chris Sale, RP Tyler Thornburg, 1B Mitch Moreland, 3B Pablo Sandoval*, RHP Brandon Workman*
Key Subtractions: INF Yoan Moncada, SP Michael Kopech, SP Clay Buchholz, RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Junichi Tazawa, DH David Ortiz**
(*Returning From Injury, **Retired)
X-Factor: Pablo Sandoval and David Price
What a mixed bag offseason for the Boston Red Sox and their fans. David Ortiz officially retired, Chris Sale was traded to Boston (in case you didn't know), Buchholz was dealt, and Pablo Sandoval came into camp in tremendous shape. But if one thing is for sure about this Sox team, it's that they are LOADED... with question marks.
How's David Price going to perform? Is Sale immune to the Boston first year struggle? How will the offense respond to losing David Ortiz? Just to name a few. Point is, there is no sure thing.
As far as Chris Sale goes, I actually am one of those people who thinks there is a very slim chance that he struggles. Contrary to David Price, Chris Sale has always been looked at as the number one in the rotation. And in this rotation, Sale might be the number 3. That's just insane. Him being lower in the rotation might help ease him in to the Boston market, while facing less competition. There really is no reason for him to win less than 17 games.
But what I feel is the biggest question in Sox camp is not only Sandoval's production, but also how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up over the course of this season. Because if Panda is hitting at an insane clip through May, then his shoulder goes again, it's just as bad as him playing the whole season and hitting sub .260. If the Red Sox are going to be a high-powered offense again in 2017, they need Pablo Sandoval to be right and healthy, otherwise the already depleted farm has to dip in deeper and give up the likes of Rafael Devers and Jason Groome to acquire a bat at the deadline.
Record Prediction: 97-65
I know in the preseason roundtable I predicted that the Red Sox would go 93-69... but I retract my statement. There is really no way the Sox do not improve on last season, even without David Ortiz. They're just too loaded in the rotation to stay stagnant in terms of record. Obviously they'll struggle at times, and there is also a chance that Sale and Sandoval struggle and don't rebound in 2017. But as of right now, these boys are the odds-on favorite to walk away with an AL East title.