Reeling from their worst season in years, the Boston Red Sox have plenty of spots to upgrade before 2013.
Their lineup has holes, their rotation needs an ace and their bullpen could use some improvements. Oh, and they kinda need a new manager...again.
But Boston is in the midst of a rebuild—not just of its team, but its image. That could mean the Sox are in for a quiet offseason as they try to be smarter with money.
With a lot to get done—and an evolving front office philosophy—here are some predictions for the Sox offseason.
I think Boston plays it safe and doesn't go after a big-name pitcher.
After issues with their last two big pitcher signings—Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey—the Sox should be hesitant to spend on a Zack Greinke or Jake Peavy.
The Sox already have a slew of solid starters. Jon Lester had a rough season, but bad luck played a part. His track record is too good for Boston to give up on him as an ace.
Clay Buchholz started the season slow, but that's expected after recovering from an injury. From June to October, he was 7-6 with a 3.45 ERA. He finished the season as Boston's ERA leader.
Then there's the farm, which is filled with plenty up-and-comers. Boston reloaded with Ruby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in the Los Angeles Dodgers blockbuster, and we could see Matt Barnes by next September.
They couldn't do it last year, and they won't do it this year.
Ever since he left the club to manage the Blue Jays, Boston has been desperate to reel ex-pitching coach John Farrell back in. They pursued him heavily last season, but balked at Toronto's asking price.
Once again, he's the rumored first choice for the Sox, and once again Toronto has a steep asking price.
My gut feeling is that Boston will remain timid when it comes to giving up a player for Farrell. Considering how bad things were with Valentine in town, it would have looked that much worse if Boston had to trade for him.
Signed on a one-year deal in January, no one expected huge things from Cody Ross.
As the season went on, it became apparent Ross was one of the Sox's better players. He finished the season hitting .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and a team-leading 81 RBI.
The only Sox player with a higher OPS was David Ortiz.
Boston has two outfield vacancies to fill, and not a lot of internal options. I expect it to turn one over to Ryan Kalish, and Ryan Sweeney can't play every day.
That leaves the Sox needing to sign at least one outfielder. After the season he put together for Boston—and the possibility of a low price tag—Ross seems like the most ideal option.
With no Adrian Gonzalez, Boston faces a hole at first base. James Loney started down the stretch, but the free-agent-to-be actually hit worse in Boston than L.A..
With a limited crop of free agents, the next best solution is a trade.
Ike Davis could be available, and would be a great addition to the Sox. He hit .227/.308/.462 on the season and clubbed 32 home runs.
Others who could be available: Bryan LaHair, Justin Morneau and maybe even Allen Craig.
The Sox got into a battle with David Ortiz last season, which ended with him coming back to Boston on a one-year deal.
Now Boston prepares once again to try and bring back their DH. This time, leverage is all his, as he's coming off his best season in years.
While I think Ortiz loves Boston, I wouldn't be surprised if he's ready to move on. The team is a mess, and Big Papi has only so many years left to chase another ring.
With a damaged relationship, it seems time the team and Ortiz part ways.