Boston Red Sox: 5 Potential Outfield Replacements for Cody Ross

Benjamin KleinContributor IIINovember 15, 2012

Boston Red Sox: 5 Potential Outfield Replacements for Cody Ross

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    The Boston Red Sox need to start preparing—if they haven’t already—for life after Cody Ross, who roamed right field last season.

    Boston signed Ross to a one-year deal last offseason and he was a hit. Ross hit .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs, 81 RBI and 70 runs in 130 games during his first season with the club. The question remains, however, if it will also be his last—for the time being.

    The Red Sox haven’t made much progress on a new deal for Ross, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.

    “They had a ton of opportunities,” said Ross. “We talked about this back in July and we couldn’t work anything out up until the deadline. Now it only makes sense to listen to other teams.”

    Ross is seeking a deal in the range of three years and $25 million, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, of which Boston may not be ready to give up. The Red Sox apparently won’t offer Ross a three-year deal, according to Bradford, which clearly doesn’t help negotiations.

    While the Red Sox have fumbled the early opportunity to bring Ross back for at least one more season, several other teams have reached out with the hopes of prying him from Boston. The Atlanta Braves are interested and the rival Baltimore Orioles are as well, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, and the Philadelphia Phillies are talking to him, according to Olney.

    Ross to Boston in 2013 is no guarantee, so here are five potential replacements who can play either left or right field if he decides to sign elsewhere.

Jason Bay, Free Agent

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    Believe it or not, Jason Bay could soon again be a member of the Boston Red Sox.

    Bay, who was supposed to be in a New York Mets uniform for the 2013 and potentially 2014, recently “parted ways” with the club and is now a free agent. Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Bay would be interested in returning to Boston, where he played in 2008 and 2009.

    The Red Sox have reached out to Bay, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, and he should have a couple of teams to choose from. As Olney writes, he’s looking for the opportunity to play and familiarity. Boston clearly gives him both of those.

    With Ross potentially out of the picture and a void still in left field regardless of Ross’ status, Bay would see significant time in the outfield. During his time in Boston, Bay manned left field and did a solid job playing the Green Monster on a regular basis.

    Bay’s true value, though, came at the plate. He hit nine home runs in 49 games in 2008 after the Red Sox acquired him from Pittsburgh Pirates and then slugged 36 in 151 games the next season. That power is what landed him a huge contract with the Mets, to which he never lived up to due to injuries.

    Would a return to Boston reignite Bay’s career? He shouldn’t be an expensive venture if the Red Sox are willing to see what he’s still capable of.

Ryan Kalish, Boston Red Sox

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    Ryan Kalish is the clear-cut, in-house favorite to replace Ross should he decide to sign elsewhere.

    Kalish appeared in 36 games for the Red Sox last season, and didn’t have a lot of success. Injuries prevented him from playing in the majors in 2011, but he did play in 53 games the year prior. Kalish is still just 24 years old and hasn’t had the time in the majors to determine whether he can be an everyday player or not, so 2013 could turn out to be that trial season.

    Playing Kalish on a regular basis would add another left-handed bat to the lineup, but he really needs to work on his approach at the plate. He has had a high leg lift before his swing in the past, which could be the reason why he hasn’t had much success offensively. He’s hit just .243/.293/.351 in 259 major league at-bats.

    Kalish has the ability to play any of the three outfield positions, but would fit nicely in right field. He has extremely good range and could roam the corner well. His arm is average, which would be a downgrade to Ross’ above-average arm, but he makes up with it with his solid glove. Defensively, there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference between Kalish and Ross.

    The Red Sox could decide to let Kalish platoon in right field next season with a right-handed hitter, but a decision like that would be more apparent later in the offseason and into spring training. He’s easily the cheapest option, but most likely wouldn’t give Boston a lot of value.

Nick Swisher, Free Agent

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    Nick Swisher is one of the players who have haunted the Red Sox over the last couple of years while playing for the rival New York Yankees.

    In 17 games against Boston just last season, Swisher hit .459/.558/.836 with five home runs, 15 RBI and nine runs. Those are astonishing numbers that the Red Sox can’t afford to face on a frequent basis going forward. Instead of facing Swisher around 18 times per season, Boston can have him sitting in their dugout now.

    Swisher, one of the best offensive targets on the free agent market, has drawn a lot interest this offseason because of his versatility and ability to playing the outfield and first base. That’s one of the reasons why the Red Sox have interest in signing him, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

    The Red Sox have two voids in the outfield and one at first base that have to be settled eventually. By signing Swisher, they would add depth to both positions and potentially wouldn’t have to spend as much to fill the other void. Swisher, will, though, want to get paid like an All-Star.

    Swisher might look to match the contract that Jayson Werth received from the Washington Nationals, which was seven years and $126 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    That’s certainly a lot of money for someone without a definitive position and a guarantee to succeed with a change of scenery, but Swisher could be worth it based on the fact that Boston wouldn’t have to pitch to him and he would “fill” two of their holes.

Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians

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    With Ross potentially signing elsewhere and the apparent need for starting pitching, it makes perfect sense for general manager Ben Cherington to negotiate a deal with the Cleveland Indians.

    The Red Sox were interested in acquiring Shin-Soo Choo and former Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson from Cleveland, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Choo would provide immediate help to the void left by Ross and adding Masterson to the rotation also isn’t a bad idea.

    Over the last five seasons, Choo has developed into one of the league’s more consistent outfielders. Outside of an injury-plagued 2011, Choo has hit .300 or better three times and hit at least 14 home runs four times. He’s a very good doubles hitter who could benefit from Green Monster in left field.

    Choo hasn’t had much success over the course of his career playing at Fenway Park, but that’s in limited time, and a small sample size doesn’t say much about his potential. The main case against trading for Choo, as The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes, is that he, like Jacoby Ellsbury only has one more year left on his contract before he hits free agency.

    By acquiring Choo, the Red Sox would only have a small amount of time to try and work out an extension, and with his solid recent seasons, he could demand more money than they’re willing to pay. In the scheme of things, Choo may not be the best option for a Ross replacement, but he still is one.

Josh Hamilton, Free Agent

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    For anyone who has heard general manager Ben Cherington talk about the team moving forward after trading away some of Boston’s biggest stars, it would be strange to think he’d pursue Josh Hamilton.

    It seems as if Cherington may be doing so, though, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who writes that there’s speculation that the Red Sox will enter the market for the yearly MVP candidate.

    Plenty of teams have interest in signing the No. 1 free agent on the market, which will make the task of inking Hamilton that much tougher. Hamilton is already seeking a seven-year, $175 million deal, according to John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus, which has the potential to skyrocket depending on the upcoming bidding war for his services.

    Hamilton has primarily been a left and center fielder in his career, not a right fielder, but that shouldn’t matter. The Red Sox could use another powerful left-handed hitter in the lineup no matter which of the three outfield positions he’d be playing. Jacoby Ellsbury, arguably the second-best lefty in Boston’s lineup behind David Ortiz, could leave after next year which is a lot of production to make up.

    Ross had a 2.4 WAR this past season, according to FanGraphs, and the Red Sox will have to make that up somehow. Hamilton’s 2012 WAR of 4.4 would vastly improve the lineup that Ross would be leaving behind and set the Red Sox up nicely for the future.

    Signing Hamilton is entirely risky, but it would absolutely improve the Red Sox, which is one of the main goals of Cherington this offseason, according to ESPN Boston.