5 Black Friday-Like Deals the Boston Red Sox Should Consider
The Red Sox have already made two inexpensive free-agent signings this offseason in catcher David Ross and outfielder Jonny Gomes.
Signing Ross for $3.2 million per year and Gomes for $5 million per year could prove to be great bargains over the next two seasons for the Red Sox.
Ross is an under-the-radar, great defensive catcher who throws out opposing baserunners well and has recorded a low catcher’s ERA in each of the last four seasons.
Gomes is a great leader and clubhouse influence who's hit left-handed pitching well over his career. He's also a dead pull hitter who could crush many balls off and over the Green Monster in the next two seasons.
Both players were signed at a low cost for only two years, and both could provide bigger impacts for the Red Sox than other free agents who require a more costly and demanding asking price.
In honor of Black Friday, what follows are five ideas for inexpensive free-agent signings the Red Sox will likely consider this offseason, all of which could be great bargains in 2013.
5. Lance Berkman, 1B
Lance Berkman played just 32 games in 2012, and the soon-to-be 37-year-old underwent two knee surgeries this past season.
For his recent injuries and age, the six-time All-Star could be lured in by a one-year deal.
In Berkman’s last full season in 2011, he posted a .301 AVG, .412 OBP and .547 SLG percentage with 31 homers and 94 RBIs.
He’s not a mobile first baseman, so he might be a better fit at designated hitter, a position currently filled by David Ortiz.
However, bringing in Berkman for a one-year deal at first base, even though he’s publicly expressed that he wants two years and is also considering retirement, could be a major steal for the Red Sox. A one-year deal would also allow the Red Sox to look into acquiring a new first baseman from the 2014 free agent class, which includes Justin Morneau, Kendrys Morales and Mark Reynolds.
Signing Berkman would add veteran experience and a recent World Series champion in the clubhouse. He's a switch hitter who crushes right-handed pitching, provides solid power and regularly posts a great on-base percentage.
A one-year deal for Berkman could be a great low-risk, high-reward bargain for the Red Sox.
4. Marco Scutaro, IF
Bringing back Marco Scutaro would allow an additional year for Jose Iglesias to develop his hitting.
As of now, the shortstop position is Iglesias’ to lose, and bringing in Scutaro for a reasonable price could create beneficial competition between the two.
However, it will be difficult to lure Scutaro from the Giants, the reigning World Series champions, with whom he earned 2012 NLCS MVP honors in this past year’s postseason. It's also possible the fact the Sox traded Scuatro away just a year ago could complicate matters to some extent.
In the NLCS, Scutaro went 14-for-28 (.500) with six runs, three doubles, four RBI and two walks over the seven games. His numbers weren’t as impressive in the World Series, going just 4-for-16 (.250) in the series, but he drove in the game-winning run in the final game against the Tigers.
On top of his postseason success, Scutaro hit .339 after the All-Star break and .402 in September and October combined.
The Red Sox could bring back the veteran infielder for a one- or two-year deal, and Jim Bowden projects Scutaro to sign for approximately $6 million per year.
At $6 million a year for two years, or for a more expensive one-year deal, Scutaro would add infield depth and could help develop Iglesias, the projected Red Sox shortstop of the future.
3. Joakim Soria, RP
Joakim Soria, statistically, had the worst season of his career in 2011, and he missed all of the 2012 season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery.
However, from 2007 to 2010, Soria was one of the best closers and relief pitchers in the league.
During that four-year span, Soria recorded 132 saves and had an ERA as low as 1.60 in 2009 and as high as 2.48 in 2007 (his rookie season). Also during that span, he had a WHIP as low as 0.86 in 2009 and as high as 1.13 in 2010.
In 14 career appearances against the Red Sox, he’s converted eight out of eight save chances with a 1.29 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.
Still, Soria had just an average 2011 season, and he missed all of the 2012 season. For a cheap, one- or two-year deal with incentives, the veteran reliever could be one of the best bargains in this free-agent class.
Soria would be a great addition to the current roster filled with above-average relief pitching.
2. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Kevin Youkilis is coming off both a terrible 2012 season and a disappointing 2011 season. His $13 million option was not picked up by the White Sox, making him an inexpensive free-agent option this offseason.
Youkilis is a former AL Gold Glove winner (2007) and Hank Aaron Award winner (2008), which displays his ability with both the glove and the bat. However, given his recent struggles and injuries, Youk will have to sign a cheap, short-term option this offseason.
Despite disappointing final numbers at the end of the 2012 and 2011 seasons, he still showed streaks and flashes of the old "Kevin Youkilis" at the plate.
In his first 18 games with Chicago, he hit .319 with four home runs and 18 RBI. Prior to the 2011 All-Star break, the potential Red Sox first baseman had a .285 AVG, .399 OBP and .512 SLG percentage with 26 doubles, 13 homers, 63 RBI and 49 walks over 83 games.
With the departure of Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox really need to find a first baseman this offseason, and Youk could be an incredible bargain for a cheap price and short-term commitment, which could include incentives. With Bobby Valentine out of the picture, the fit seems to be a good one.
Including being a potential major bargain, here are also 13 reasons why Youkilis belongs back with the Boston Red Sox.
1. Brandon McCarthy, SP
When healthy, Brandon McCarthy is one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League. However, he’s never pitched a healthy, full season as a starter in his career.
McCarthy made only 18 starts and pitched 111.0 innings in 2012, and he made 25 starts and pitched 170.2 innings in 2011. On top of that, from 2008-2010 he made a total of just 22 starts and missed all of the 2010 season.
But when he’s healthy, the 29-year-old is one of the best, most underrated pitchers in the AL.
In 2012, McCarthy had an 8-6 record with a 3.24 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. However, he was placed on the disabled list twice last season.
Prior to his DL stint from June to August, the right-hander had a 6-3 record with a 2.54 ERA. In four starts versus AL East teams—Boston twice, Baltimore and Tampa Bay once—McCarthy was perfect with a 4-0 record, 2.33 ERA and 1.11 WHIP last season.
On top of that, from 2011 to 2012, McCarthy has a solid 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
Signing McCarthy to even a one-year deal is a risk, because he hasn’t been able to pitch a complete season as a starter in his career. But for a one-year deal up to $10 million, the 29-year-old could be the biggest steal of the 2013 free agent class, if the Red Sox can get at least 25 starts out of the ace.
Ten million dollars is a still good amount of money, but if McCarthy pitches like an ace with a low 3-ERA for even three-quarters of a season, he would be an incredible bargain.