Boston Red Sox: Are the Sox' Winter Meetings Signings Desperate or Effective?

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIDecember 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02:  Shane Victorino #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after what he though was ball four was ruled a swing for a strike out in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants on October 2, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In just two days at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has already signed two of the bigger names left on the free agent market in Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino.

Were these moves the right ones for Boston, though?

With the team wanting to move into an era of restraint when it comes to signing free agents, handing nearly $13 million per season to a 32-year-old outfielder who hasn't been all that impressive in recent years and another $13 million per season to a catcher who has hit under .240 in two of his last three seasons seems a bit counter-intuitive.

While Victorino does fill a major need in the outfield for Boston, $13 million seems like a gross overpayment for an aging veteran who hit .255 in 2012 and posted an OPS of just .704 (down from .279 and .847 from 2011).

His power also disappeared once he left the more hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.

He hit a grand total of just two home runs in over 200 at-bats post-trade, compared to nine home runs in 387 at-bats in Philadelphia.

Perhaps Fenway Park will be a blessing for the man known as the "Flyin' Hawaiian," but the Red Sox should be aware that with Victorino's declining power, it is fairly clear they've signed a more one-dimensional hitter.

As for Napoli, the rationale behind signing the Rangers' catcher is much more clear.

Sure, his .224 batting average in 2012 wasn't all that impressive, but Napoli's career OPS of over 1.000 at Fenway Park, ability to knock out well over 20 home runs per season and absolutely mash left-handed pitching was more than enough to convince the Sox that he was worth signing.

Whether or not Napoli lives up to $13 million a season for the next three years remains to be seen.

So what's the verdict on the pair of Red Sox signings? Well, you can chalk up the Napoli signing as somewhat effective, but the Victorino signing as desperate.