It will not be long before the Boston Red Sox are assembled in Fort Myers for spring training, but the team is not quite complete.
There are a few players left on Boston’s shopping list, including two of the top free-agent position players left on the market.
“The Red Sox, to compensate for the loss of (Trevor) Story, (have) expressed interest in free-agent shortstop Elvis Andrus and free-agent infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar,” USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote Sunday.
Andrus, 34, is the top shortstop on the market and is starting to feel like a shoo-in for the Red Sox’s 2023 Opening Day roster.
The two-time All-Star hit .249 with 49 extra-base hits including 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .707 OPS in 149 games between the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox last season.
On top of having solid pop for a potential late free-agent signing, the veteran is hard to put away, ranking in the 83rd percentile for strikeout percentage.
Andrus also ranked in the 84th percentile in Outs Above Average last season, just a tick below Xander Bogaerts — who was surprisingly named an American League Gold Glove finalist.
Andrus is not going to replace the production of Bogaerts or Story, but he’d be a valuable pickup ahead of spring training.
Profar, 29, is an interesting option for the Red Sox to turn to. The switch-hitting utility man does not have impressive game-level offensive production, but he does put up high-quality at-bats.
The former San Diego Padres’ slugger hit .243 with 53 extra-base hits including 15 home runs, 58 RBIs a .723 OPS and 111 OPS+ in 152 games last season.
He was able to rack up 3.1 bWAR thanks in part to his impressive 103-to-73 strikeout-to-walk ratio with the underlying metrics to support his measured approach at the plate.
Profar was in the 84th percentile for strikeout rate, 85th percentile for walk rate, 86th percentile for chase rate and 79th percentile for chase rate. Boston could use a hitter with less aggressive tendencies than his peers.
The biggest issue with Profar is his defensive liabilities. He can play just about anywhere — but he’s not a plus defender in any spot and ranked in just the ninth percentile for Outs Above Average last season.
Boston could use a bench piece who can aid both their lackluster middle infield and outfield depth — but it sort of defeats the purpose when that player isn’t a good defender anywhere on the diamond.
Still, the Red Sox aren’t in a position to be picky at this point in the offseason with the amount of work left to do.