A busy Boston offseason isn't over yet.
Sorting out which Boston Red Sox rumors are fact or fiction is a favorite pastime for fans as the 2013 season approaches. Although the team’s offseason may be winding down, there are still a number of storylines that need to be sorted out.
Boston general manager Ben Cherington announced on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show earlier this offseason that the team intended to have a significant payroll in 2013. It appears like that promise has been met because of all of Boston’s new acquisitions.
WEEI’s Alex Speier outlined how the Red Sox have neared the 2013 luxury tax threshold of $178 million. Those numbers got even closer because of their recent completion of a trade for closer Joel Hanrahan.
Coming off a 93-loss season in 2012, the Red Sox seem determined to put a contending team on the field in 2013. As a result, they have been associated with many available players—a trend that has continued despite their high payroll.
The Red Sox still officially lack a first baseman, and some, including WEEI’s Rob Bradford, have questioned if the team can compete without a true superstar player. Despite what they have already spent, more moves are still possible.
Click through to find out the most recent information on which of the hottest Boston rumors are fact or fiction.
It's been a month since Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to a deal.
Napoli and the Red Sox agreed in principle on a three-year, $39 million contract last month for the free agent to be Boston’s starting first baseman. However, the deal has not yet been finalized due to concerns Boston has with Napoli’s health.
FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Red Sox became concerned with something about Napoli’s hip that appeared during his physical. This has led to them insisting on specific contract language to protect their interests.
It has been unclear if Boston is seeking to reduce the number of years or insert a clause in Napoli’s contract. Needless to say, these attempts at renegotiation have been met by resistance.
Multiple sources have reported that Napoli is fighting back by talking to other teams. However, that is more likely posturing than a sign that he might seriously consider taking his services elsewhere.
Boston’s primary competition for Napoli had been the Seattle Mariners. However, since the Red Sox and the free agent agreed to their deal, Seattle subsequently acquired Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez, seemingly putting an end to their interest.
It seems unlikely there are other teams willing to come close to Boston's offer, especially now that news of Napoli's hip condition has been put on blast.
Red Sox fans should still expect to see Napoli in a Boston uniform in 2013.
Although he may not get the deal he originally struck with Boston, Napoli will still likely be in a Red Sox uniform come the start of spring training.
Despite the inability to finalize a contract, The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham recently wrote that signing Napoli remains a priority for the team.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo believes Boston is Napoli’s best option, regardless of the haggling over contract terms, writing, “Unless he wants to accept a one-year contract somewhere or take a two-year deal from Texas, he’s going to try to work out the language in the three-year, $39 million deal the Red Sox offered.”
Napoli’s career .356 OBP would fit well into a Boston lineup that places a premium on the ability to work counts and reach base.
If the Red Sox thought Napoli’s hip was in such bad shape that it would impact his ability to play, they would have presumably reneged on the entire deal. Their attempts to renegotiate reflect their desire to protect themselves in the event something did go wrong for a player they would be paying a good deal of money.
With first base having a very shallow pool of available players this offseason, the Red Sox do not have many alternate options.
It will likely turn out that the two sides need each other too much for their differences to not eventually be worked out.
It's unlikely that LaRoche will be in Boston unless it's as a member of a visiting team.
LaRoche is the best remaining first baseman on the free-agent market. Since the Red Sox and Napoli entered renegotiations, LaRoche’s name has increasingly been connected to Boston.
Despite the rumors, it is highly unlikely that the Red Sox have real interest in LaRoche, for a number of reasons.
Even if the Red Sox were willing to give the 33-year-old LaRoche three years, they would likely give pause to the second round draft pick they would have to surrender to Washington under the new collective bargaining agreement.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote that “While they’re [Boston] keeping Adam LaRoche in their sights, they really don’t want to give up a draft pick to sign him.”
WEEI’s Rob Bradford explained why the Red Sox should be so reluctant to give up a draft pick for LaRoche, as history shows the value of compensation selections.
Boston may also be turned off by LaRoche’s subpar history against AL competition, where he has hit just .246 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI in 112 career games. Those are hardly numbers that inspire confidence in giving the kind of deal he is seeking.
Justin Upton may be traded, but it won't be to Boston.
The Red Sox currently lack a true superstar and there are few available options. But could Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfielder Justin Upton be a candidate to come to Boston in a trade, as suggested by ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden?
While ESPN.com’s Buster Olney says that Arizona now has a surplus of outfielders because of recently signing Cody Ross to a free-agent deal, it does not appear Upton and Boston are a fit.
The price of acquiring Upton would almost certainly be seen as prohibitive by the Red Sox. Bowden suggested that it would take Xander Bogaerts and Matt Barnes, their top position and pitching prospects, to get talks started.
With shortstop and starting pitching being areas of long-term need for the Red Sox, it would be an incredibly risky move to trade young players with such high upside for a player as inconsistent as Upton. He finished fourth in 2011 NL MVP voting, but saw his OPS drop more than 100 points in 2012.
Even Arizona is doubtful of their compatibility with Boston in a deal for Upton. According to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, when their general manager Kevin Towers was asked if he saw Boston as a potential trade partner, he simply replied, “Probably not.”
Red Sox fans would be ecstatic to see Stanton in a Boston uniform.
WEEI’s Kirk Minihane wrote how Boston president and CEO Larry Lucchino appeared on the station’s Dennis & Callahan Show earlier this offseason and indicated the team is no longer interested in long-term mega-contracts. It’s that philosophy that makes Stanton a great fit for the Red Sox.
If the Marlins are willing to consider the possibility of moving Stanton, MassLive.com’s Ben Shapiro believes the Red Sox have to get involved.
The 23-year-old Stanton has 162 game averages of .270 with 40 home runs and 101 RBI during his first three major league seasons. He will not be eligible for free agency until 2017, making him an ideal target for Boston because of their hesitancy to dole out lengthy contracts.
The price to obtain Stanton would almost certainly include top prospects like Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. However, since Stanton is so young, major league-established and relatively cheap, it might be a gamble worth taking.
Boston general manager Ben Cherington told the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton that he doesn't want to trade young players. However, acquiring a young superstar like Stanton would be a reasonable exception to that rule.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported that the Red Sox already inquired about Stanton earlier this offseason, indicating their interest in being considered if the unique opportunity to acquire such a young impact player comes to fruition.
Statistics via BaseballReference