Bowden: Red Sox must change course, make major signings, trades this offseason

The Red Sox (72-77) enter Friday’s game against the Yankees in last place in the American League East, 19 games behind their division-leading rivals. They are on track to finish in the cellar for the second time in three years, and based on their big-league roster and farm system, they’ll be heavy favorites to land in last again next year unless they make major changes this offseason.

Boston’s pitching staff ranks 24th in the majors in ERA (4.45) and its bullpen has 27 blown saves in 62 opportunities, one of the worst ratios in baseball. The Red Sox defense ranks 25th out of 30 teams, according to FanGraphs.

Suffice it to say, if you can’t pitch and play defense, you won’t be popping champagne at the season’s end and playing meaningful games in October. The Red Sox need to prioritize those areas this winter. Their to-do list also includes dealing with a likely opt out by Xander Bogaerts, addressing Rafael Devers’ unsettled contract situation and engaging in negotiations with their impending free agents.

The Red Sox need to have one of their most aggressive offseasons in years. They have the financial power to play “checkbook baseball” and the front office to make bold trades. But it’s time for fewer “value” moves and more big-market “tidal-wave” transactions.

Let’s look at each position, assess the needs and suggest some moves they could make this offseason to get back on track.

Starting rotation

Building a more competitive rotation must be an offseason focus even if it requires the Red Sox to play checkbook baseball.

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