Red Sox Will Begin to Take Shape at the Winter Meetings

Jonathan CullenSenior Writer INovember 29, 2012

Hopefully the Sox will steer clear of Dempster this winter.
Hopefully the Sox will steer clear of Dempster this winter.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Baseball's winter meetings are scheduled to kick off on Monday, December 3.

A few teams are already starting to make some interesting moves prior to the annual baseball gathering.

Some of these interesting baseball moves will directly and indirectly affect the Boston Red Sox.

Russell Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, definitely an unexpected and interesting development. It was first reported here by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Have to wonder if this will cause the New York Yankees to jump back in to the Mike Napoli sweepstakes.

Napoli will almost certainly get four years now, with competition coming between the Texas Rangers, Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners.

Martin's contract at first glance seems very reasonable for the Pirates. Two years and $17 million. Wonder if the Sox ever talked to Martin about those terms. That contract may seem far more palatable than going to four years for Napoli.

The Sox will likely need to act fast if they plan to get Napoli under contract for next season.

Two other interesting moves have occurred that might indirectly help the Red Sox, plus there's a rumor to talk about.

The Washington Nationals traded for CF Denard Span, effectively taking them out of the Michael Bourn sweepstakes. Also, mentioned in this Q&A session with Nats' general manager Mike Rizzo, Mark Zuckerman brings more clarity to the position of 1B Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche sounds like a man without a country, or more specifically a team.

The Red Sox may have a very real choice to make between LaRoche and Napoli. It may come down to who the Sox can get on a shorter contract.

The other move that could impact the Sox was the Atlanta Braves' signing of B.J. Upton. I'm sure that Jacoby Ellsbury's agent Scott Boras was probably a little frustrated with the relatively reasonable five years and $75.25 million that Upton received.

Ellsbury has more upside but Upton has been able to stay on the field more often and be more productive. They are not exactly the same type of player, but if I am the Red Sox, my contract offer to Ellsbury after next season would look very much like Upton's contract.

Wonder if free-agent CF Michael Bourn will fall into someone's lap on a short contract with the Nationals and Braves out of the bidding.

Lastly is the report from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that the Sox are one the teams talking to Ryan Dempster. Three years for Dempster? No thanks.

Honestly, the Sox can do better than Dempster, a classic National League pitcher. Dempster was exposed in his half-season with the Rangers, struggling against the stronger lineups of the American League.

If the Sox didn't have John Lackey, I could understand the interest in Dempster a little more. The Sox should be aiming higher for the third spot in their rotation.

By next Thursday, we should start to have a better idea of what the 2013 Red Sox will look like.

Hopefully we will like what we see.