By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The business of sports dictates that change is the only real constant. Everyone understands this reality. Stories of players spending their entire careers with one organization or of championship rosters staying together for long stretches of time are few and far between.READ MORE: 2 Dracut Police Cruisers Destroyed In Suspicious Fire At Station
Still, even with an understanding of this requirement in professional sports, the Boston Red Sox seem to be living on the extreme.
The latest departure was expected, as outfield Jackie Bradley Jr. will be signing with the Milwaukee Brewers. Given the Red Sox’ desire to get under the luxury tax threshold, re-signing Bradley was never really in the cards. Still, his departure now makes it official that the entire starting outfield from the 2018 World Series-winning Red Sox is now gone.
Mookie Betts was traded a year ago. Andrew Benintendi was traded last month. Bradley is now gone. Brock Holt, the utility man who was the fourth outfielder on that championship team, left via free agency last year. (Designated hitter J.D. Martinez did play a decent amount of outfield that year.)
Again, turnover is always to be expected. But when a team wins the most games in franchise history en route to a five-game World Series victory, one might expect the team to try to keep that team together for a while.
Instead, as the Red Sox set to embark on their third season after that championship, their roster has been turned over significantly.
Here’s a look at the 2018 World Series roster. The players in bold are still on the team.
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Jackie Bradley Jr.
Again, roster changes are to be expected. But having just nine out of 25 players from the World Series roster just three years later does feel slightly over the top in that regard.
Of course, it hasn’t exactly been a calculated teardown of the roster. The team did underperform in 2019, going 84-78 and missing the playoffs. And in the strange 2020 season during COVID, the Red Sox were abysmal, going 24-36, a 65-97 pace over 162 games.
The Red Sox also made some ill-advised investments after winning. Notably, they signed Chris Sale a year before he was set to become a free agent, despite some obvious health concerns that limited his availability and effectiveness through the second half of 2018. And they gave Nathan Eovaldi a four-year, $68 million deal despite his long injury history. Though it was less significant in terms of money, the team also re-signed World Series MVP Steve Pearce to a $6.25 million contract for 2019, which essentially took the Red Sox out of the market for Craig Kimbrel or any viable closer for 2019.
The poor management after winning it all largely contributed to the dismissal of Dave Dombrowski, thus ushering in the Chaim Bloom era.
Throw in the seeming impossibility of the team signing Mookie Betts to a long-term deal, David Price’s discomfort with being in Boston, and the high price tag on Rick Porcello as a free agent, and the changes can be seen more on an individual level.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Still, when looking at the big picture, it’s just a bit striking to see how much has changed so quickly for the Red Sox after the single greatest season in their 120-year history.