Power Ranking the Contracts of Every Boston Red Sox Player

Douglas Sibor@dcsiborContributor IJanuary 9, 2013

Power Ranking the Contracts of Every Boston Red Sox Player

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    The Boston Red Sox have been all over the map in distributing contracts in the 2013 MLB offseason, trying to rein in the long-term commitments that have hurt them in the past while simultaneously spending freely for the next couple years.

    The result is that the current roster does not have a player signed beyond 2015, although several players will surely still be with the team due to arbitration and team options.

    GM Ben Cherington has set the foundation for the thing he promised to do when he traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers: build a bridge to the future.

    Let’s take a look at the presumptive 25-man roster, and how the remaining years and dollar’s on each player’s contract compare:

    All contract figures provided by baseball-reference.com

25. Shane Victorino

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    Age: 32

    Years/Money Remaining: Three years, $39 million

    Guys rarely get faster when they hit their mid-thirties. Why should the Flyin’ Hawaiian be any different?

    Victorino will undoubtedly be a good guy and a positive clubhouse presence. He plays hard and he plays hurt, and this team needs that kind of professionalism and toughness.

    However, the fact of the matter is that he is getting older, and given that his game is predicated on speed, do you really want to pay someone like that $13 million per season?

24. Mike Napoli

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    Age: 31

    Years/Money Remaining: Three years, $39 million (rumored)

    Assuming this deal ever gets signed, it may not quite resemble the current three year/$39 million form it is in now. The Sox are looking for protection because of Napoli’s balky hip, and that is a major red flag.

    Given his injury history, Napoli cannot be expected to stay healthy over the length of the contract. The Sox spent a lot of time getting out from under these multi-year, eight-figure contracts to oft-injured players (JD Drew anyone?). Entering into another one when they’re trying to rebuild just doesn’t make much sense.

23. Daniel Bard

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    Age: 27

    Years/Money Remaining: Three years*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $1.6 million in 2012

    Bard might as well change his middle name to “If.”

    If he can regain his old form, the Sox will have one of the game’s best setup men at a virtually no cost.

    If he remains lost and hopeless on the mound, he’ll get demoted before spring training even ends.

    If he is somewhere in the middle, the Sox are probably slightly overpaying for an OK setup guy whose incredible promise was wasted on a stupid gamble that had little chance of succeeding.

    Forgive me if I sound a little indignant about last year’s failed experiment, but if the Sox had any idea that this was how Bard’s value would be assessed, one would hope they would never have messed with him in the first place.

22. Andrew Bailey

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    Age: 28

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $3.9 million in 2012

    If Bailey were the closer, having him under team control for another two years at a low cost would be a steal. However, with the acquisition of Joel Hanrahan, Bailey has been relegated to a setup role.

    Should he regain the form that made him an All Star in two of his three seasons in Oakland, Bailey would be a bargain at this rate even as a setup man. If he falters, though, the Sox will be shelling out too much for an unreliable arm.

21. Jose Iglesias

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    Age: 23

    Years/Money Remaining: One year, $2.06 million

    If Iglesias had risen to the role of starting shortstop, which the Sox had sincerely hoped he would by now, this would be a great deal. Instead, it is just OK purely because he is merely a slightly glorified backup who may never reach his potential.

    If the Sox gave Iglesias an every day job, he’d probably win a Gold Glove. Given the limited sample from last season, he’d also be lucky to hit .200.

    Whether Iglesias is back with the organization beyond 2013 will depend greatly on what improvement (if any) he shows at the dish next season.

20. Ryan Kalish

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    Age: 24

    Years/Money Remaining: Five years*

    Arbitration eligible in 2015, made $483,000 in 2012

    A hard-nosed, speedy outfielder who once was seen as the evolutionary Trot Nixon, Kalish has been plagued by injuries the last two years. Now finally healthy, it appears he’ll get his shot to platoon with Jonny Gomes in left field and be a game-changer at the bottom of the lineup.

    Whether Kalish’s contract is a steal or not even worth mentioning hinges entirely on whether he becomes a reliable player or loses his spot on the roster to someone like Daniel Nava. If he does emerge, though, he’ll be a huge savings over a player many compare him to: Shane Victorino.

19. Ryan Dempster

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    Age: 35

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years, $26.5 million

    The Canadian has never pitched outside of the National League, save for a few interleague starts and his two month stint with the Rangers last season. That fact alone makes this contract highly questionable, although Ben Cherington deserves credit for getting Dempster to agree to a two year deal.

    While the right-hander was leading the NL in ERA at the time of his trade last year, Sox fans should not expect the same from him. If Dempster can stay healthy and contribute an ERA at or around 4.00, though, this is a short enough deal that it won’t make a lasting impact on the franchise.

18. John Lackey

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    Age: 34

    Years/Money Remaining: Three years, $31 million

    What used to be considered an albatross of a contract is certainly less so now, thanks to a clever vesting option negotiated by Theo Epstein. When Lackey went down the Tommy John surgery, it triggered an additional option year at the end of the deal for the MLB minimum, projected to be about $500,000.

    Is Lackey a $10 million a year pitcher? Probably not. But, at the very least, the Sox are closer to paying the right-hander his actual value.

17. Jonny Gomes

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    Age: 32

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years, $10 million

    Signed this offseason for the reasonable price of $5 million per season, the Sox got good value for a guy who looks a lot like this season’s Cody Ross. Like Ross, he comes cheaply, mashes lefties and is a great clubhouse guy.

    This was one of the rare instances this offseason where the Sox went for value in their free agent signing, and this was probably Ben Cherington’s best deal. He filled a need for a low price, something the Sox have really struggled with in recent years.

16. David Ross

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    Age: 35

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years, $6.2 million

    Ross is a veteran revered for his leadership both behind the plate and in the clubhouse, and in a vacuum this was a sound decision getting him on the cheap. However, the two-year deal is a bit confounding given that the Sox also have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway seemingly ready to play every day.

    For a solid backup, though, this is a reasonable deal. Ross won’t be a huge difference-maker, but he certainly will provide valuable assistance working with the Sox pitchers.

15. Craig Breslow

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    Age: 32

    Years/Money Remaining: One year*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $1.8 million in 2012

    Breslow was actually really good for the Sox last season, putting up a 2.70 ERA in 23 appearances. His contribution, lost in the shuffle of a horrific season, will certainly take on more meaning in 2013.

    Another incumbent free agent, Breslow will likely still play for a low rate this year. Good lefty setup men are hard to find, so as long as he picks up where he left off in 2012, this is another solid deal.

14. Andrew Miller

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    Age: 27

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $1.04 million in 2012

    After largely failing as a starter, Miller emerged last year as a really good situational lefty out of the bullpen. The Sox got him for essentially nothing in the 2011 offseason, and have him under team control for another two years.

    While he’ll get a decent raise for next season, Miller will still likely pitch for under $2 million. Given how reliable he was for most of 2012, that’s a bargain.

13. Jacoby Ellsbury

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    Age: 29

    Years/Money Remaining: One year*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $8.05 million in 2012

    If the Sox are getting the 2011 Ellsbury, then whatever he gets in arbitration will be a steal. If they are getting the injury-prone Ellsbury of 2010 and 2012, they are sinking a lot of dead money into a trade chip with little value.

    The Sox’s versatile center fielder has a lot to prove this season, and is playing for the first (and likely last) free agent mega deal of his career. If he can stay healthy, the Sox could parlay the favorable terms of this year’s contract into key future pieces.

12. Koji Uehara

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    Age: 37

    Years/Money Remaining: One year, $4.25 million

    Another one of Ben Cherington’s bargain basement signings, Uehara was one of the top set-up men in the game last season. While he is on the older side and has been a bit injury-prone in the past, since converting to a relief role in 2010 he has been fantastic.

    Uehara’s got experience in the AL East, and in the last two seasons with Texas gained valuable experience pitching in meaningful games down the stretch. If he can maintain his form, this one-year deal may be one of MLB’s biggest steals.

11. Jon Lester

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    Age: 29

    Years/Money Remaining: One year, $11.6 million (team option at $13 million for 2014)

    The left-hander is at a career crossroads. He had been one of the game’s best bargains, but after his poor effort at the end of 2011 and all of 2012, it’s worth wondering if Lester’s best days are behind him.

    While the market does seem to bear out that $11.6 million is a reasonable price for a good No. 2 starter, Lester’s performance this season will have a huge bearing on whether they pick up his $13 million option for next season.

    While letting him go was once an inconceivable thought, if he continues to struggle they may at least let Lester test the free agent market.

10. Joel Hanrahan

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    Age: 31

    Years/Money Remaining: One year*

    Arbitration eligible, made $4.1 million in 2012

    The new closer will likely get a raise over his 2012 salary, but there are certainly some red flags that should give fans pause. Hanrahan’s escalating walk rate has been discussed ad nauseam, as has his shift from the weak NL Central to powerful AL East.

    If this transition goes smoothly, the Sox will be happy to pay $5-plus million for their closer. If things go south, though, they’ll have overpaid for yet another setup guy who couldn’t succeed in the 9th inning.

9. Stephen Drew

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    Age: 29

    Years/Money Remaining: One year, $9.5 million

    This was a move birthed of necessity rather than creativity, but actually worked out pretty well for the Sox. Other than a gruesome ankle injury in 2011, Drew has been healthy and productive throughout his career.

    Jose Iglesias was a disaster last year, and Ben Cherington was smart to realize that the dynamic fielder simply couldn’t hack it as an everyday hitter. The Sox paid a little more for Drew, but the arrangement will be mutually beneficial: Drew will get to establish his value and earn a long-term deal, and the Sox have a bridge to top prospect Xander Bogaerts.

8. David Ortiz

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    Age: 37

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years, $25 million

    If Big Papi picks up where he left off last season, this deal is a steal. The Sox will be paying Ortiz more in year one ($14 million) than in year two ($11 million), so they are protected somewhat against any performance decline.

    Even if he struggles, though, the veteran leader has huge value to this team. He is the last member of the 2004 World Series winners still on the team, and one of very few remaining from 2007.

    His experience alone makes this one of the better contracts on the team, and the DH can be expected to put up solid numbers as he continues to age gracefully.

7. Franklin Morales

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    Age: 26

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $850,000 in 2012

    This contract is near the top of the list for three key reasons:

    1. The Sox got Morales for almost nothing (a little cash in May of 2011)

    2. Morales had success as both reliever (3.23 ERA) and back of the rotation starter (4.14 ERA) in 2012.

    3. He works cheap (will see a bump to just over $1 million this season)

    Many fans also don’t realize how young he is (just 26), meaning that he may actually improve over the next two seasons. Morales’ versatility and the two more years of team control mean that he is a hugely valuable asset, one of the strongest on the current roster.

6. Alfredo Aceves

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    Age: 30

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $1.2 million in 2012

    The Ace was one of the great bargain basement finds of the last two seasons, and even with his meltdown towards the end of 2012 should provide the Sox with a cheap, versatile option out of the bullpen. If he continues with his borderline-insane antics, his low pay grade means he can easily be shipped to a different team.

    Should the Sox have an injury in the rotation (and let’s be realistic, they probably will), Aceves can slide into one of those spots easily. Having a pitcher like that for what will likely be under $3 million is a huge bargain.

5. Felix Doubront

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    Age: 25

    Years/Money Remaining: Five years*

    Arbitration eligible in 2015, made $484,000 in 2012

    Talented young left-handers are hard to come by, and if the first four months of last season were any indication, Doubront is certainly that. While he faltered down the stretch, the left-hander proved that he has the ability to be a good MLB pitcher.

    His rookie contract and five more years of team control mean that the Sox have the luxury of time to develop their young pitcher into a more reliable player. New manager John Farrell, who oversaw the development of current top starters Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, is the right man for the job here.

4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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    Age: 27

    Years/Money Remaining: One year*

    *Arbitration eligible, made $2.5 million in 2012

    Given his 2012 production, Salty will receive a big raise this season. Nevertheless, for a starting catcher with 20-plus home run power, even $5-6 million per season is a steal.

    Like Jacoby Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia is playing for a long-term deal next season. With Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings, the Sox might look to deal their affordable incumbent for more future pieces.

3. Will Middlebrooks

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    Age: 24

    Years/Money Remaining: Six years*

    Arbitration eligible in 2015, made prorated MLB minimum ($480,000) in 2012

    After displacing Kevin Youkilis and becoming a reliable power bat in the Sox lineup last season, Middlebrooks was on his way to the top spot on this list. However, he loses points due to something beyond his control: the broken wrist that ended his brilliant rookie campaign.

    Expectations for the third baseman are very high going into 2013, and some growing pains should be expected. However, if Middlebrooks can quickly find his 2012 form again, this rookie contract may be the biggest bargain in the entire organization.

2. Clay Buchholz

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    Age: 28

    Years/Money Remaining: Three years, $25.2 million (team option at $13 million for 2016, team option for $13.5 million for 2017)

    For an ace, this would be a fantastic deal. For a strong No. 2, it’s still a very good deal. At 28, it’s time for Buchholz to decide which of these two he is going to be.

    For most of 2012, Buchholz looked like an ace; however, by bookending his season with month-long stretches of poor play, he left ample doubt as to whether he is ever truly going to ascend to No. 1 status.

    Even if he remains just very good, Buchholz still is a great value over the next three seasons.

1. Dustin Pedroia

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    Age: 29

    Years/Money Remaining: Two years, $20 million (team option at $11 million for 2015)

    The No. 1 spot on this list goes to the former AL MVP, who is one of the best all-around players in the game. For all intents and purposes, this contract is really a three year/$31 million deal, and that is a bargain for a perennial MVP candidate.

    The only question with Pedroia is one of health. He has spent time on the disabled list in two of the last three seasons, and as he gets into his thirties one can’t help but wonder if his all-out style of play is catching up with him.

    Nevertheless, given his production Pedroia is one of the great bargains in the game.