In many ways, 2016 was a season of redemption for the Boston Red Sox. After all, they won the American League Eastern Division championship one year after finishing in the division cellar. The AL East title earned them entry into the MLB's postseason, where they were swept by the Cleveland Indians in the first round.
So where do the Sox go from here? They seemingly have the pieces in place to make another run at a division championship and postseason playoff berth, but it's all speculation at this point.
That said, here's a look at Boston's top offseason storylines as Red Sox Nation counts down the days to the opening of spring training camp in February.
How to replace Papi?
The end of the 2016 season signaled the end of David Ortiz's brilliant 14-year career with the Red Sox. Big Papi has retired - leaving a hole in the Red Sox lineup and the hearts of fans. Moreover, the Boston slugger hardly left the game on a downswing as he wrapped up his career with a .315 average, 38 home runs, and 127 RBIs.
Replacing Ortiz and his five Wins Above Replacement will be far from easy. Sox GM Dave Dombrowski may look for a productive free agent find, such as Edwin Encarnacion to help fill the sizable void Ortiz left behind.
Who's on third?
Boston's third base production was sketchy in 2016, and with the possible return of Pablo Sandoval (as well as the potential emergence of top prospect Yoan Moncada) sorting out who can be counted on at the hot corner is a spring training must. Travis Shaw outplayed Sandoval to become the Sox's regular third baseman but cooled off after a hot start. Sandoval, meanwhile, played only three games before needing season-ending shoulder surgery.
What to do with all the catchers?
The Red Sox have three legitimate big league catchers, and all three could be used as trade bait in the offseason. Sandy Leon is at the head of the pack after a strong 2016 season, but he faded offensively down the homestretch. Dombrowski also must figure out what to do with Christian Vazquez - who's an excellent defender but not much offensively - and with Blake Swihart, who could be moved to the outfield. Any of the three catchers could end up in trade talks if Boston seeks to fill another need.Joe Messineo 12/01/2016 03:58:00 PM Tweet