Boston Red Sox Free Agency: Updated Targets and Rumors
The upcoming months are as important as ever for the Boston Red Sox, and it all starts with free agency.
Boston will have a ton of open payroll going into the 2013 season, especially after the August trade that sent the massive contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It also won’t have the burden of Daisuke Matsuzaka any longer.
The Red Sox will only have around $45 million committed next season, according to Cot’s Contracts, but that doesn’t include money that could go to David Ortiz, Cody Ross or an extension candidate such as Jacoby Ellsbury or Clay Buchholz.
Seeking free agents—and more importantly, the right free agents—is one of the biggest things on general manager’s plate going into next year, along with potentially finding himself a new manager, but let’s not worry about that for now.
Here’s a look at who the Red Sox will be targeting going into the offseason and whether it’s likely they sign in Boston or elsewhere.
Will Boston Re-Sign David Ortiz to Multi-Year Deal?
David Ortiz wants to stay a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Ortiz is 36 years old, a full-time designated hitter and seeking a multi-year deal that would probably ensure that he ends his career in Boston, according to Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald.
So should the Red Sox negotiate a two-year deal with Ortiz? I say no.
I know that Ortiz is one of the biggest figures in Boston and is a valuable offensive threat, but the DH role is no longer what it used to be. It’s now rare to find a team with one player who DH’s every single game. Other teams just rotate two players pending on the pitching matchup and give other everyday players a day off here and there.
Ortiz is absolutely going to also want a lot of money. Why spend $20-plus million on a contract for a veteran DH who now has foot issues?
As long as the DH spot in the lineup produces similar numbers to those that Ortiz could’ve put up, does it really matter whether it’s Ortiz or a combination of two other players who puts them up?
That answer is no, and even though it will be a tough decision, Ben Cherington should thank Ortiz for his contributions and send him on his way. It's time to move in a new direction.
Should Boston Sign Cody Ross for at Least Another Year?
In a season where it’s nearly impossible to find something positive to take away, there’s Cody Ross, who was easily the best offseason acquisition from a year ago.
Ross has shined when everyone else on the roster didn’t, and he didn’t complain or make excuses when he didn’t. He’s been able to stay healthy the entire year and has been worth every single penny of that one-year, $3 million deal.
What do you do with a player who’s given you that much value? You re-sign him.
Ross knows exactly what he wants to do this offseason should Boston fail to extend him before the season comes to an end on Wednesday, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI. He’s even said that he wants to come back and that there’s mutual interest.
If a solid player wants to come back and play for a team who had its worst season in 40-plus years, you let him come back. Obviously, Boston shouldn’t make a “Yankees” move and just sign him to a five-year, $30 million deal, but it is in a position to give him two or three years for a fair price.
If there’s one player who has earned his pay for next season, it’s Cody Ross.
Who Will Be Boston's Starting First Baseman?
With Adrian Gonzalez now playing baseball on the West Coast with the Dodgers, the Red Sox need to find a first baseman.
Since the trade, James Loney and Mauro Gomez have been sharing time over at first. Loney has expressed some interest in returning next season even though he’s an upcoming free agent, and that’s something that Ben Cherington will have to consider.
Gomez, on the other hand, was the MVP of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League this past season, and he could be the easily option to fill the void. He has a solid bat, at least in the minors, but doesn’t look comfortable defensively, which will cause some hesitation to give him the reigns.
One of the options that Boston could pursue is actually an interesting one, according to WEEI’s Alex Speier. Speier writes that Boston could have interest in former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis, among other first base options. Obviously, it wouldn’t work if Bobby Valentine was still the manager, but who knows who will be calling the shots next year and beyond.
Other options that Speier lists include Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, Yankees outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, Rangers first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli, Yankees infielder Eric Chavez, Orioles utility man Mark Reynolds and Rays first baseman Carlos Pena.
Of those options, I’d think that Swisher would be the most intriguing. He could play the infield on most days and possibly platoon with Ross in right field when Boston faces right-handed pitching. It’d also be nice to steal him away from the Yankees too.
Can Boston Find Suitable Pitchers for the Starting Rotation?
The Red Sox absolutely need to put a major emphasis on pitching this offseason, especially upgrading their lackluster starting rotation.
Boston should have Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront, as well as John Lackey who will be returning from Tommy John surgery. I don’t see any way that Aaron Cook comes back, and definitely not Daisuke Matsuzaka. Even Matsuzaka knows that his tenure in Boston will likely come to an end after the season comes to a close.
So who can Boston get to come and pitch for it? Sure, there are a couple of minor leaguers who could make an impact in 2013, but let’s focus on free agents.
Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal thinks that pitchers such as Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson or Dan Haren could be of interest to the Red Sox. Alex Speier of WEEI also believes that Kuroda and Jackson could become targets.
After last season, I really thought that the Red Sox should’ve pursued Jackson, but he signed with the Nationals instead. They should really try to pick him up this time around if Washington lets him get away.
Another name to keep an eye on is Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy. Although his season was cut short by a freak injury, he could be a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy for years to come.
Will Boston Pursue Any Stars to Add to 2013 Roster?
I’ve already mentioned a few first basemen and starting pitchers that the Red Sox could look into this offseason, but there are a couple other position players that they should focus on.
As Alex Speier of WEEI writes, Rays outfielder B.J. Upton and Braves outfielder Michael Bourn are some bigger names to consider if they aren’t re-signed by their current teams. I think that in the end, Bourn will return to Atlanta and Upton will test the market.
The Red Sox know Upton about as well as any other team, seeing him around 18 times per season within the division. He would definitely be an intriguing option, but it would only have to be if Boston didn’t re-sign Ross and didn’t feel confident in keeping Jacoby Ellsbury past 2013 when his contract expires.
If there’s one player that you shouldn’t expect to be playing at Fenway Park next season regularly, it’s Josh Hamilton. It makes no sense whatsoever to sign any player, not even just Hamilton, to a mega-deal like they’ve done in the past with Gonzalez and Crawford. It doesn’t work, and I think that Ben Cherington realizes that.
The Red Sox have to be smart with their money, and making reactionary moves is no longer in the cards.
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