Boston Red Sox: 5 Free Agents They Now Should Target This Winter
In just about 24 hours, Magic Johnson somehow became more popular in Boston than Larry Bird.
Fans rejoiced, celebrations were had, grown men were brought to tears. The team shed some $250 million off its payroll, unloading Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and, the tipping point, Nick Punto to the L.A. Dodgers.
Sound the alarms, a fire sale may be in place.
That can be a very good thing for this franchise that has been tasting the venom of the fanbase for the entirety of the 2012 season. While there is no hope for postseason play in Boston this year, the franchise has restored hope and faith in the organization once again.
The next step now is to continue growing and developing the farm system, more so the prospects they've just acquired from Los Angeles. In the interim, the Red Sox will need to make some moves in the winter. If you think this slideshow is going to call for a Josh Hamilton type of signing, you'll be more disappointed than Peter Griffin at an O'Doul's brewery.
Here are five realistic signings the Red Sox should make with their newly inflated purse.
Cody Ross has been everything the Red Sox have wanted and then some. The 31-year-old veteran has proven to be worth more than the $3 million the team signed him for in 2012, which has worked out well for the organization.
Since coming to Boston, Ross has put together a .271/.335/.519/.854 batting line with 19 home runs, 26 doubles, 62 RBI and 55 runs. He's also racked up 93 hits through 95 games.
While he's only played in the American League for two of his nine years in baseball, it has been a better fit for Ross:
His value to the team extends beyond that, too. Ross has been an important and positive influence on a clubhouse that has seen a lot of dark times lately.
Bringing back Ross would be a wise investment financially, considering his cost likely will be similar to the $6.3 million he made with the Giants in 2011. It isn't exactly Carl Crawford money, and he likely could be had for two years and $10 million.
Having personally attended the Aug. 24 game when the Red Sox played the Kansas City Royals, I can attest to the enormous ovation David Ortiz received when being announced in the starting lineup.
Boston loves Big Papi. That's pretty obvious.
The Red Sox need to bring him back as the continued face of the franchise. Papi is a man whose smile can charm even the harshest of critics from time to time.
More than that, he's been an absolute monster for Boston this season. While only having played in 90 games before going on the DL, Ortiz had a legitimate shot at the American League MVP award.
Yes, he is 36 years old, but the time has come to give Ortiz the multi-year deal he's been looking for. This season he signed for one year and $14.58 million. For that, he's given the team a .318/.415/.611/1.026 batting line. His SLG and OPS both lead the American League, and he has managed 103 hits, 26 doubles, 23 home runs and 60 RBI.
Would anybody in Boston have an issue with giving Ortiz two years and $22 million-$24 million?
The Boston Red Sox do not need a catcher, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't add a player such as Mike Napoli.
At 30 years old, Napoli is making $9.4 million for the Texas Rangers. For the Red Sox, his true value could come as a first baseman.
In his career, Napoli is a .259/.357/.502/.859 batter, with a majority of his playing time coming in Anaheim. Since joining the Rangers, those numbers have increased to .276/.382/.540/.922.
At Fenway Park Napoli has blossomed, oftentimes to the demise of the Sox. In his 19 games at the Fens, Napoli owns a .306/.397/.710/1.107 batting line with seven home runs, four doubles and 19 total hits in 62 at-bats with 17 RBI.
Beyond that, Napoli's numbers against AL East opponents are solid. While they average out to .268/.374/.518/.894, he is very much a Yankee killer as well, posting a 1.017 OPS with a .323 batting average against the Empire.
Napoli has played in 123 career games as a first baseman. Having a player with his bat and flexibility could be very beneficial for the team should his asking price not get too inflated.
At just 26, Delmon Young is about to enter the prime of his career. This year he is signed with the Tigers for $6.75 million.
As a career .285 batter, Young owns a .318 OBP, .424 SLG and .741 OPS. Are those numbers that are going to blow your roof off? No, not exactly.
However, he's still young and has tremendous upside.
Against AL East opponents, Young has a .280/.306/.398/.705 batting line. When playing in Fenway he has a .276/.312/.414/.741 batting line.
In other words, he is what he is—a nice hitter with some power potential.
Young is having a down year this season, which lends itself to the Red Sox possibly signing him to a one-year deal to try and increase his value on the free-agent market the following year.
It would benefit the team so they could have another year to develop some younger talent in the minors, and it would benefit Young to try and have a bounce-back year at a park that has historically been good to him.
As much as Red Sox Nation would like to be completely rid of some unfavorable faces, John Lackey will still be in a Red Sox uniform next season.
The pitching staff will need a little bit of restructuring, but likely not as much as one would think. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront all will be back, with the possibility of Franklin Morales also returning to the rotation.
To replace Josh Beckett the team should look at Oakland A's free-agent starter Brandon McCarthy.
When healthy, McCarthy has ace material. He has spent all seven years of his career in the American League, so he's no stranger to the stiff competition the AL has to offer. He owns a career 35-38 record with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.287 WHIP.
In Boston, McCarthy owns a 2-2 record with a 3.12 ERA and 1.269 WHIP in 17.1 innings pitched. He's had three starts in four games.
Historically speaking, McCarthy owns a winning record against the AL East. He has a 10-5 record with a 4.27 ERA and a 1.438 WHIP in 143.1 innings.
McCarthy also is just 29 years old and very affordable, earning $4.28 million this season.