Boston Red Sox: Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Hitter Options

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Boston Red Sox: Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Hitter Options
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox wasn't always Big Papi. At one time in his career, he was just David Ortiz, a young hitter that the Minnesota Twins gave up on during the winter of 2002.

Letting Ortiz go was a decision that a smaller-market team like Minnesota routinely has to make. They look at a salary increase weighed against the player's expected production. A larger-market team can hold on to a player like Ortiz to see if he could build on his 2002 campaign.

More then any other recent transaction in Boston Red Sox history, the Ortiz signing altered the fate and direction of the franchise.

And it also altered the course of the Twins franchise. The Twins would advance to the playoffs five more times in the next 10 years, failing to reach the World Series each time.

In fairness to the Twins, the Red Sox really didn't know what they had when they signed Ortiz, making him compete for at-bats with Jeremy Giambi. Ortiz was released on December 16th, 2002 and could have been signed by any team in baseball.

The Red Sox didn't sign Ortiz until January 22nd, 2003.

Ortiz was a 26-year-old slugger in 2002 after finishing his sixth season with the Twins. The 2002 season was the first season that Ortiz reached the 20-home-run plateau. There were signs that Ortiz was capable of producing more, but nothing that would have indicated what he turned into with Boston.

Fast-forward to today, and there are a couple of younger players that the Red Sox could look at this winter, players that have fallen out of favor with their current organization or need a change of scenery or simply haven't been given the opportunity to succeed.

Looking at the Boston Red Sox roster entering free agency, there is an ability for the team to build depth at the major league and minor league levels without hindering the development or advancement of younger prospects in the minor leagues.

These players are depth players that can platoon in Boston, earn at-bats or grow and develop into a larger role.

All the Red Sox need to do is go back into their recent history, the winter before the 2003 season, when Boston added David Ortiz, Todd Walker, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Gabe Kapler and Brandon Lyon to the core roster of the team.   

All statistics are used courtesy of the website.

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