The Boston Red Sox have made multiple free-agent signings, but the lack of trades has been the dumbest thing they have done so far.
Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, Jonny Gomes and David Ross will all be good additions to the roster, but the Red Sox may have missed the boat by not trading away major chips currently on their roster.
At least four players, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway, should be available in trades.
The Red Sox look like they will improve in 2013, but fall short of being legitimate World Series contenders.
With prospects such as Xander Bogaerts, Bryce Brentz, Matt Barnes, Ruby De La Rosa and Allen Webster all expected to impact the team in 2014, the Red Sox should be looking to get younger players for the future rather than veterans capable of contributing to a 2013 team.
Naploli signing gives the Red Sox options
Of all the acquisitions, Napoli makes the most sense. The 31-year-old catcher/first baseman has the ability to play first base and can transition to DH down the road.
With a lack of first base prospects, this signing makes the most sense. Additionally, with the 37-year-old David Ortiz signed to a two-year contract, Napoli could be viewed as Papi's replacement.
Napoli may have been overpaid, but in order to sign him to a shorter contract the Red Sox had to increase the average annual value.
Victorino signing is questionable
However, the Victorino signing is a bit of a head-scratcher.
A center fielder by trade, Victorino will now shift to right field in Boston, diminishing the value of his defense – his best trait.
Additionally, the Red Sox have become a right-handed dominant lineup with Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias. Victorino, a switch-hitter, won’t provide help when facing right-handed pitchers since his batting average against righties (.265) is worse than it is against lefties (.301).
The one positive for Victorino is he provides insurance in case Jacoby Ellsbury gets hurt in 2013.
While that is a plus, the Victorino signing would make more sense if the Red Sox traded Ellsbury this offseason and shifted Victorino to center for 2013.
This would certainly impact the chances that the Red Sox make the playoffs in 2013, but it would end the "what if" questions surrounding Ellsbury staying in Boston long term, and the trade would allow the Red Sox to acquire younger cost-effective players for the next half decade.
Victorino could then slide to right in 2014 if Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to develop, or he can remain the full-time center fielder in 2014 if Bradley stumbles.
If the Red Sox keep Ellsbury for 2013, they would have been better off re-signing a player like Cody Ross, who has already proven he can play in Boston.
Red Sox missed opportunity for top prospect
The biggest miss for the Red Sox this offseason may be the failure to complete a trade with the Kansas City Royals.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reported that the Royals were interested in trading Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers to the Red Sox for Jon Lester.
With the recent signing (ESPN Boston) of Ryan Dempster, trading Lester would have been less of a blow to the 2013 team and would leave an open spot for a prospect in 2014.
If Lester bounces back to Cy Young form over the next five plus years and signs a team-friendly extension with the Red Sox, then Ben Cherington may have made the right decision.
However, if Lester doesn’t return to being a true ace, then the Red Sox lost out on having a potential franchise player under team control for the next six seasons.
Overall, Cherington has improved the Red Sox going into 2013, but when you take a closer look at the long-term ramification, not only has he not signed anyone under 30, but he may have missed out on significant trade opportunities by not trading Ellsbury and Lester.