With the most embarrassing game being the last, the 2021 season is OVAH! Time to talk about the offseason and how the Sox can be better next year.
I wrote that is the best we could expect from the current team and FO. I stated my peace regarding shedding veterans / adding younger players who can win now and extend the window.
They should eat the Kimbrel buyout and concentrate on solid FAs which are available every year, guys which Hahn passes over to lockup old veterans the first weeks of FA for top dollar and hope they stay healthy and don't decline, versus younger healthy options with upside.
Your post indicates what is likely to happen, unless JR tells Hahn NO, your payroll is XXX, and Kimbrel doesn't fit or you get nothing else except Kimbrel, everything else must be filled eternally beyond a couple $1M-$3M guys.
The CBA and COVID make this a difficult year to speculate. My best guess if I had a gun to my head and had to bet would be:
A CBA is not finalized this Winter. Either they will play 2022 under an extension of the current deal, or there will be a significant work stoppage.
I don't see the Sox signing a Marcus Semien, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, or other high priced FA without dumping the equivalent in salary.
I think the Sox will ultimately keep Caesar (or sign someone with a similar salary) for 2B, sign Leury for $8M/2yrs, Tepera $9M/2 yrs + team option, and muddle through with Sheets/Vaughn/Eloy/Engle/ Leury as their corner OF + DH solution.
That leaves a payroll of Hitters $91.4M + Starting Pitchers $46.5M + Relief Pitchers $25.5M = Total $162.4M (Previous OD High was $128.7M, last year 2021)
Hitters: Abreu (35 $19.7); Anderson (29 $9.5); Engel (30 $2.0); Hernandez (32 $6.0); Garcia (31 $4.0); Gonzalez (25 $0.6); Grandal (33 $18.3); Jimenez (25 $7.3); Moncada (27 $13.8); Robert (24 $6.0); Sheets (26 $0.6); Vaughn (24 $0.6); Older Defensive Catcher (33 $3.0M).
SP: Giolito (27, $8.3), Lynn (35 $19.0) , Keuchel (34 $18.0) Kopech (26, $0.6), Cease (26, $0.6).
RP: Hendriks (33, $13.3), Bummer (28, $2.5), Crochet (23, $0.6), Lopez (28, $2.0), Ruiz (27, $0.6), FA Tepera (34, $4.5), Free Agent TBD (30, $2.0)
A year over year increase from $128.7M to $162.4M, or $33.7M (26.2%) is very high / significant. Not sure how many are thinking a $200M payroll, a 56% increase in payroll, is realistic. I understand they sold a lot of 2022 season tickets with Jerry's 2021 playoff carrots, but they didn't sell an additional $70M worth, that is for certain.
$180M would be a beyond wildest dreams budget, but don't see it as likely unless JR is trying to goose ST performance for he or his heirs to cash out at top dollar. That would allow your Conforto, or my Semien, but not both. I would also add at least 1 good SP ($7M-$10M range), Kopech isn't pitching all year, you want to cap Keuchel, and they will likely have at least one significant injury next year.