On the pitching side of things, nothing has gone well. Buchholz out-pitched his ERA but now is hurt and certainly isn’t being rushed back. His $13 million option for 2016 should be picked up, however. Knuckleballer Stephen Wright has been effective in his few starts. Wade Miley started off horrendously, but has rebounded to at least be serviceable. But beyond that, Porcello was a disaster, who’s now signed long-term and Joe Kelly has found no consistency - possibly headed for a bullpen role in 2016.
And despite a slow start to the season, long-time Red Sox David Ortiz has turned it on since June, and is especially mashing the ball in August. This is good news for both team and player, as David Ortiz now will enjoy at least $11 million next season, since his 2016 option has vested with his 425th plate appearance of the season. He’ll earn $1 million more each for 475 PA, 500 PA, 575 PA, and 600 PA. WIth Big Papi showing vintage form, none of those milestones look unobtainable, and why wouldn’t you play him with his clutch hitting clearly on its rebound?
At 39, Ortiz may only have one more strong season in him, but this is great news for Sox fans. Ortiz is now at 489 career home runs. As it stands, Big Papi is a borderline Hall of Famer with 48.6 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. It’s fully possible that Papi has 11 more homers left in him for 2015, but now he doesn’t have to be pressured about that number this year. Not that anyone is seeming to notice. It hasn’t really been a story - more of a footnote. That’s just how bad and uninspiring the 2015 Sox have been.
Fortunately, the Sox do have a future. Betts will return for the league minimum. Holt is not going through arbitration for the first time until 2017, but doesn’t expect to land a huge payday with his counting stats. Pedroia will be back, only being kept on the DL since the Sox are going nowhere anyway - he was having a fine season before his injury. Papi is obviously back, so the DH spot is settled. Hanley Ramirez will be fine if they get him out of the outfield. Sandoval is probably not going to stay this bad, but a move to first base may be in the cards. It will be interesting to see if the Sox return outfielder De Aza, who’s flashing the batting prowess he once did with the White Sox. Rusney Castillo has potential, and probably just needs to have a consistent spot in the 2016 lineup. His Triple-A numbers don’t look tremendous (.282/.337/.385) but if he becomes the above-average defender he’s expected to be, that’s a slightly above average starting outfielder.
The pitching staff is a mess, but Henry Owens has the stuff to be good. Eduardo Rodriguez has had some rough starts, but has shown he was a steal from the Orioles - although Andrew Miller has been a force since signing with the Yankees. Joe Kelly’s arm is fantastic, but he’s probably a set-up man going forward. As already said, Buchholz will probably return. But Wade Miley and especially Rick Porcello have to get their acts together. The former could be fine, but the later has a lot of money due to him for the next few years.
No matter how the Sox are, though, the fans should remember that they have a potential Hall-of-Famer on his way to 500 home runs. While the PED concerns will linger over him because of his contemporaries, Ortiz is such a likeable character who’s become such a complete hitter over the course of his career that I highly doubt he won’t eventually be enshrined. At least 2016 will have one race to look forward to.