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2023 Red Sox could be the oldest team in MLB, but that’s not a bad thing


With several reports on Wednesday indicating the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with 34-year-old outfielder Adam Duvall, it’s becoming clear what the Opening Day roster might look like.

The easiest way to describe it?

Old. The Red Sox could have the oldest team in baseball this year.

As currently constructed, the 13 pitchers expected to crack the roster have an average age of 31.8. The oldest pitching staff last year belonged to the Mets, who averaged 31.2.

The Red Sox projected starting lineup, with the addition of Duvall, has an average age of 29.1, but is likely to get older if they sign a veteran shortstop like Elvis Andrus, 34, or Jose Iglesias, 33, to replace Christian Arroyo, 27, and move Arroyo back to a utility role.

If they sign Andrus, the Sox starting lineup would have an average age of 29.9, which would’ve been the third-oldest in the league last year, according to Baseball Reference.

That means a Red Sox team that has been promoting its minor league system and asking its fanbase to be patient for the future is on the verge of sending out one of the oldest big league teams in recent memory.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It actually could be considered a good thing — the Red Sox want veterans around the young guys, they want to give themselves a chance in case they case they sneak into the postseason and, most importantly, they’ll have guys who are on short-term contracts and can be traded to contending teams at the deadline, when the Sox will most likely be out of contention.

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom mentioned the age difference during a weekend appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.

“We have a lot of young pitching coming,” he said. “We have a couple on the way coming behind them, some really exciting and interesting guys who will continue to grow and hopefully integrate into the mix here.”

On the idea that the old guys could be taking the young guys’ roster spots, Bloom said, “we don’t want to cut off opportunity for those guys but we feel the right thing for us is to fortify the club with guys around them so we aren’t as reliant on them as we were last year. That’s a big part of why we built the bullpen the way we did, to take the heat off those guys.”

In doing so, the Red Sox went out and signed 35-year-old closer Kenley Jansen, one of the slowest pitchers in baseball who will need to adapt to the new pitch clock, and 36-year-old set-up man Chris Martin.

The Sox were undoubtedly desperate for reliable bullpen additions, and nobody can fault them for being aggressive in adding a pair of veteran relievers to fortify the late innings.

In the rotation, the Sox held onto James Paxton, 34, who is bouncing back after two years on the shelf. They’re still over-relying on Chris Sale, 34, who can’t stay healthy. And they signed Corey Kluber, 36, as the only starting rotation addition this winter.

It’s unclear whether or not Brayan Bello, 23, will get a shot to start ahead of those three, plus Nick Pivetta, 31, and Garrett Whitlock, 26.

Bloom told MLB Network Radio that it’ll be good to have “some guys who can show them the way, guys who have been there, done that.”

On the young pitchers, “if we can get them in the zone, they have premium stuff and are going to be pretty good,” Bloom said. “We know there are some injury questions too but if we keep (the veterans) on the field, between them and the young guys, we should be in a pretty good spot.”

Age is just a number, but it’s worth noting that the World Series-winning Astros were in the top 10 in average age on both the hitting and pitching side last year, while their opponents, the Phillies, were right around league average in both.

There’s long been a belief in baseball that winning teams need veterans and young guys to be successful, and at the very least, the Red Sox have done that.

They’ve built an obvious bridge to a younger crop of talented players that may not arrive until 2024 or 2025.

But chairman Tom Werner seemed to take offense with the idea that the Red Sox are rebuilding when asked about it last week, telling reporters emphatically, “It’s not a rebuild. We have a core of good players and we’ve added to it, but it’s definitely not a rebuild.”

Werner has been pumping up the minor league system, noting that Bloom rebuffed it and ownership expects to see the results this year and next year.

“We can’t go through one of these cycles every year,” he said. “Part of the reason Chaim’s doing a good job and the results will be what they are is that we have strengthened our minor league system, and we’ve got some very, very good minor league players that are coming up that will hopefully keep us at a competitive level year in and year out.”

Until then, the old guys will hold it down. And if Bloom hits on a few key offseason additions, perhaps he’ll have found the perfect mix of old and young.


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