Red Sox owners like what the future holds

Red Sox owners like what the future holds

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- If you looked at a bar graph illustrating the success of the Red Sox over the last five seasons, you'd see a line that sways wildly from the bottom to the top and back again.

Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner are both confident that the club's recently topsy-turvy ways are going to give way to perennial success.

"This should be a very strong team for the next three years," said Henry at Friday night's kickoff of the third annual Red Sox Winter Weekend. "There's no way we could've signed every young player we have. We have so many. I think we look good for the next three years. Beyond that, we have a terrific general manager and terrific resources, thanks to our fans. You have to feel good about this club."

Not only does Boston boast one of the best starting rotations in the game after the addition of Chris Sale, but the talented young core (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi) is complemented by productive veterans like Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Craig Kimbrel.

As for having to trade prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech to acquire Sale, Henry and Werner both viewed that as the cost of doing business and feel the future of the club wasn't significantly compromised.

"I think the most important thing is the core of our team this year remains intact," said Werner. "While we did trade some prospects, we've got a very strong, youthful team that's going to be with us for hopefully many years. Obviously you have to trade some high-value prospects to get better quickly, but we feel we've got a very strong farm system, and there are a lot of players that we're encouraged about, like [Sam] Travis and our new pitching prospect, [Jason] Groome. We're confident that we'll be able to restock our club."

Over the last five seasons, the Red Sox finished last, first, last, last and first in the American League East.

As optimistic as they are about 2017, Henry and Werner aren't ready to make any bold predictions. They realize that exercise is fruitless.

"Well, the expectations are always high in Boston," Werner said. "I asked someone yesterday, and found out that of the 31 top baseball analysts predicting who was going to win the American League pennant last year, only one had Cleveland. We go into it with high expectations. There's a lot of competition, but we like our club and I think our core players are probably going to be even better this year.

"We had the Cy Young winner last year and we had Mookie Betts, who came in second in the MVP voting and is surrounded by other strong players. We're very optimistic."

Just don't expect David Ortiz to come walking back through that door -- at least as an active player. The Red Sox still have an open invitation for the slugger to return to the organization in another capacity. Werner clearly enjoyed the new commercial in which Ortiz poses as a tennis instructor.

"You know, he has not indicated that that [playing again] is of interest to him," Werner said. "He knows that we'd love to figure out some way for him to be an important part of the organization going forward. We're going to be seeing him next week. Beyond that, I think he's having a good time in his offseason. I think he's learning how to play tennis. I can't say anything more than that."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.