Could Jacoby Ellsbury be taking the field on Opening Day in a different uniform?
I certainly don't need to tell you that a storm is brewing in the well-furnished, upper-management offices at Fenway Park.
Changes will be made soon to this Boston Red Sox roster. Big changes.
Take a look at what general manager Ben Cherington replied to a question about the direction of the team at David Ortiz's press conference on Monday, according to WEEI:
That’s a work in progress. We've got a lot of work to do. We’ll work as hard as we can this winter. There’s other things that we need to do this winter to add to the roster and continue along with that path, build from within and bring in players.
That alone seems to indicate that certain deals might already be in the works, some of which could even include the bigger names on this team.
Cherington showed that he isn't afraid to pull the trigger on a deal involving high-profile names with big contracts when he shipped Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford out of town to free up space on the books.
Here are four players, who for various reasons, could also see their time in a Sox uniform cut short before Opening Day 2013.
The Red Sox have a few options here.
If they don't act before the season starts, the Ellsbury cloud will hang over the 2013 campaign heavier than Josh Beckett's beer gut was looking this past July.
With the center fielder's impending free agency coming at the conclusion of next season, Ellsbury's contract has become one of the most important hot button issues heading into this period of turnover for the ball club.
Many feel the 2011 All-Star is fragile, injury-prone and lacks the commitment necessary to stay on the field and wouldn't mind seeing Boston cut ties with him. Others see the the 29-year-old as part of a handful of signature pieces for this organization moving forward and see an extension is essential.
That being said, Boston could choose to move Ellsbury, banking on other general managers' salivating over his 2011 numbers which led to a runner-up finish in MVP balloting.
It's a tough call.
Ellsbury is coming off an injury-plagued, unimpressive year, but the potential is there. Now would be the time to move him, just in case his 2013 production falls in line with his 2010 and 2012 numbers.
A 28-year-old lefty with a career win-loss record of 85-48 and ERA of 3.76. Why would a team even think of trading a piece like that?
Well, because that same southpaw has consistently let down an entire organization for a solid 13 months in a row. Since September 1, 2011, Lester is 10-19 with a 4.90 ERA.
Granted, those numbers should be a lot to scare off a lot of potential customers. And the Red Sox likely shouldn't be trying to get rid of any pitching depth, because it's already slim to begin with.
But Lester, considering his age and past history, qualifies as a fantastic candidate for a fresh-start, bounce-back year in a new location. Throw in a friendly $11.625 million on the books for a potential ace and Cy Young winner, and Cherington will definitely be fielding some calls regarding Lester this offseason.
This 27-year-old, former first-round-pick could be looking at his fourth team just six years, depending on the level of commitment that Boston is ready to give to prospect Ryan Lavarnway.
With a solid first half (considering the generally low output of Sox catchers of late) of 17 home runs, 41 RBI, and a not-entirely-debilitating .239 average, it looked like Boston could have a catcher on its hands capable of at least bridging the gap until something special came along. Those numbers dipped to eight homers, 18 RBI and a .200 average.
Clearly, that is not going to cut it.
Saltalamacchia doesn't have a boatload of trade value right now, but let's be honest here, neither did Nick Punto.
Before you rip my head off and tell me that there's no way Lackey, who sat out this season to recover from Tommy John surgery after posting a 6.41 ERA in 2011, could generate any interest from a major league franchise, let alone a farm team, hear me out.
Lackey, despite everything that is said about him in the media, still maintains the respect of his peers in the clubhouse.
There has to be something that people in baseball are seeing in this player that people on the outside don't. Perhaps Lackey is a great chemistry guy and is an asset in the clubhouse. Perhaps this is a known fact across the league. Perhaps John Lackey is a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
Perhaps he won't be in a Red Sox uniform in 2013.