The 2018 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox were the perfect blend. While a huge reason they were able to dominate the postseason with an 11-3 record was the veteran presence and in-season trade acquisitions, we can’t forget about the young core that Dave Dombrowski has in place … at least for now.
Boston has arguably the best young outfield in baseball, boasting MVP candidate Mookie Betts (25-years-old), Andrew Benintendi (23) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (28). That trio earned just $17.2 million combined during the 2018 title season — breaking down to $10.5 million for Mookie, $6.1 million for JBJ and a mere $620,000 for Benintendi. To put that in perspective, David Price earned nearly double what the entire outfield made over the course of the season — although he proved to be well worth it in a World Series MVP caliber performance.
The influx of young talent doesn’t end with the outfield either. The Sox have the left side of their infield potentially covered for the future with now two-time World Series champ Xander Bogaerts (25) at shortstop, and the youngest of the group, Rafael Devers (21) holding down the hot corner at third base.
Take a look below at just how effective these five players were during the regular season (batting average/HR/RBI):
Betts: .346/32/80 with 81 walks, 129 runs and 30 stolen bases in 136 games.
Benintendi: .290/16/87 with 71 walks, 103 runs and 21 stolen bases in 148 games.
Bradley: .234/13/59 with 46 walks, 76 runs and 17 stolen bases in 144 games — and gold glove defense in centerfield.
Bogaerts: .288/23/103 with 55 walks and 72 runs in 136 games.
Devers: .240/21/66 with 38 walks and 59 runs in 121 games.
In the postseason they combined for 59 of the team’s 121 hits, six of the 17 homers, 35 of the 80 RBI and 30 of the 59 drawn walks. While veteran contributions from J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland were equally as necessary, the Red Sox young core did plenty of damage on the postseason run, from Opening Day through the World Series.
Now the focus shifts to locking up these pieces long-term if Boston wants to sustain its success. Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel and Steve Pearce are among some of Boston’s key free agents this offseason, all who project to be handsomely rewarded elsewhere if not offered a fair market contract by Dombrowski and company.
Fortunately, Boston owns the rights to all five youngsters next season, as Betts, Bradley and Bogaerts are entering arbitration, while Benintendi and Devers are still pre-arbitration. But it’s unrealistic to expect to Sox to be able so secure all of these piece for the long run unless they start taking action this winter.
So let’s sit back an enjoy this World Series for now. The Red Sox have earned it. But Boston can’t expect to sustain this success without rewarding its stars of the future. Dombrowski, who’s mortgaged nearly all of Boston’s valuable minor league prospects in exchange for a World Series trophy, has some big decisions to make on who will be maintained as part of this core. Once free agency hits for these kids, the rest of baseball will take notice, and be waiting to open their wallets.