The Boston Red Sox saw their 2021 season come to an end in the ALCS.
It was a great run, but the Houston Astros ended up being too much for Boston to handle.
The Red Sox are now entering a pivotal offseason in which the organization is going to have some difficult choices to make.
Here are a few of the toughest decisions ahead for Boston.
3. Whether Or Not To Exercise Christian Vazquez’s Club Option
Christian Vazquez has spent his entire MLB career with the Red Sox since being drafted by the organization in 2008.
The 31-year-old has accomplished a lot with Boston, including winning a World Series title in 2018.
He’s a very serviceable player when he’s at his best.
But when he’s not at his best, it’s tough to justify keeping him in the lineup.
He had an underwhelming 2021 campaign in which he posted a .659 OPS and 75 OPS+.
For his career, he has a slash line of .259/.309/.352.
He’s a pretty solid defensive catcher, but his poor production offensively sometimes outweighs the impact he makes behind the plate.
The Red Sox have a tough decision to make this offseason when it comes to Vazquez’s future.
2. Whether Or Not To Bring Back Kyle Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber ended up being a massive deadline addition for the Red Sox.
There’s no telling if the team would have reached the ALCS without him.
But now, his future with the team is a mystery.
The slugger has an $11 million mutual option in his contract for the 2022 campaign.
That’s exactly what it sounds like — both parties have to agree to exercise the option in order for it to go into effect.
Given the impressive season the 28-year-old just had, it seems likely that he’s going to opt out of the deal and seek a bigger contract in free agency.
But that doesn’t mean the Red Sox can’t still try to bring him back.
Absolutely loved watching Kyle Schwarber this year. Wish him the best as a free agent and hope Chaim can sign him for next year.
— Parker Kirk (@K1RKgg) October 23, 2021
He recently suggested that he’s open to returning.
“And, I mean, this is definitely a clubhouse that I could see myself wanting to stay in,” he said. “These guys are amazing. I said this, it’s two World Series teams going at it. This is a World Series clubhouse, and I would love to hopefully see if that opportunity comes back.”
Only time will tell if the former first-round pick will be wearing a Red Sox uniform in 2022.
1. Whether Or Not To Bring Back Eduardo Rodriguez
Like Vazquez, Eduardo Rodriguez has spent his entire big-league career with the Red Sox.
He, too, was a big part of Boston’s run to the 2018 World Series title.
But the 28-year-old is set to hit free agency this offseason, and it’s tough to predict his future.
His ceiling at the MLB level seems to be established — a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter.
He’s very capable of producing good numbers, as he did in 2018 (3.82 ERA) and 2019 (3.81 ERA).
Eduardo Rodríguez, Filthy Two Pitch Sequence (88mph Cutter & 84mph Changeup). And Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/BJ86QQIndD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 23, 2021
But he’s also capable of producing less attractive numbers, like he did this season (4.74 ERA).
Now, to his credit, his ERA in 2021 doesn’t tell the whole story.
According to some of his predictive metrics (like his 3.32 FIP), he actually performed much better than his ERA suggests.
But at the end of the day, keeping runs off the board is what matters.
Unlucky or not, he wasn’t able to effectively do that in 2021.
It remains to be seen which direction the Red Sox will go with Rodriguez in the offseason.