The Boston Red Sox will start spring training without star David Ortiz for the first time in 14 years.
The star slugger called it quits on his highly successful major league career at the end of last season. He walked away with three World Series titles, one MVP of the World Series and many memories of his 14 seasons at Fenway Park.
Now that Ortiz is no longer with the club, Boston moves on with a new face, Chris Sale, acquired from the White Sox for four prospects.
Sale is now the focal point on the team as he enters with a career record of 74-50 and an ERA of 3.00. However, Sale has not yet pitched during the postseason.
Boston signed veteran left-hander David Price during the offseason in 2015 while adding strength to its bullpen with the signing of Craig Kimbrel, one of the top closers in the league.
In 2016, the Red Sox won the American League East title, but the Cleveland Indians swept them in three games during the divisional round of the playoffs.
Other than Sale, Boston also signed Mitch Moreland a first baseman and left-handed hitter. He will not replace Ortiz, but will add depth as well as being a solid defender at first.
Hanley Ramirez, when not injured, played first most of last season for Boston, but he will likely fill the slot at DH left open with Ortiz’s departure.
Depth in the bullpen was added during the offseason with Tyler Thornburg a set-up man with velocity signed from Milwaukee.
Last season outfielder Andrew Benintendi played some for the Red Sox late in the season hitting .295 with a pair of home runs and 14 RBIs during just 34 games. He has speed and plays strong defense. He will be considered a rookie and should add to the team’s speed and hitting.
With Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia returning from strong seasons, the Red Sox batting order should be strong. Betts finished second in AL MVP voting behind just Mike Trout. Betts hit for a .318 average with 31 home runs and 113 RBIs.
Add in the 30 home runs and 111 RBIs of Ramirez from last season and the Red Sox will be hard to keep off the scoreboard.
The loss of Ortiz to retirement will be felt on offense, but the addition of Sale in the starting rotation could make up for that by shutting down opponents.