If Nathan Eovaldi had accepted the $19.65 million qualifying offer that was extended to him last week, the Red Sox would have had a proven leader and postseason performer back in the fold for next season.
They also would have had a bit more clarity for the rotation in 2023.
While the Sox still could bring back Eovaldi, who rejected his qualifying offer on Tuesday, on a multi-year deal, the rotation has more questions than answers at this point.
Can Chris Sale at last stay healthy, and if so, how many innings will he be asked to provide after having such a light workload over the past three seasons?
Ditto for James Paxton, the veteran lefty who exercised his $4 million player option last week.
Will Nick Pivetta be more consistent? While Pivetta’s durability has been an asset for Boston the last two years, his inconsistency has been perplexing. Pivetta struggled mightily in the division in 2022 and that will have to change for the righty be as valuable as the club needs him to be.
How good can Garrett Whitlock be as a starter? At last week’s GM Meetings, general manager Brian O’Halloran told reporters that Whitlock has been informed that the expectation will be for him to start in 2023. While Whitlock has dominated as a reliever in the first two years of his career, the ramp on him as a starter -- nine starts last season -- hasn’t been long enough to truly know what he is capable of in that role.
How quickly will Brayan Bello make the leap? Just about everyone was impressed by Bello’s arsenal after he got his first taste in the Majors. He finished strong, but his overall numbers (2-8, 4.71 ERA in 13 appearances) make it unclear if he’s ready to hit the ground running. Depending on what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom does this offseason, there’s a chance Bello starts the season in Triple-A so he can get more seasoning.
Could the Sox sign Japanese ace Kodai Senga? Perhaps the Red Sox will make a big splash in international waters. Senga is a free agent and is making the rounds in the United States visiting with teams. Players from Daisuke Matsuzaka to Koji Uehara to Hideki Okajima and others have always expressed that Boston is a comfortable market for Japanese players, both personally and professionally.
“Super talented, athletic, power stuff,” Bloom said of Senga at the GM Meetings. “Just a really impressive arm.”