Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Boston Red Sox Rumors

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Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest Boston Red Sox Rumors
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
First baseman Mike Napoli has made it known he wants to stay in Boston.

Only a few weeks into Major League Baseball's offseason, the Boston Red Sox have emerged as one of the teams rampant in rumors and speculation.

Which of these rumors will play out to be true?

That is the focus for Boston over the coming weeks as they look to retain and upgrade a team that carried them to their 2013 World Series championship.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Boston has been very active in early rumors and the pursuit of various players, either via free agency or the trade market.

This author also wrote a piece describing some of the deals the Red Sox could make this offseason.

How does it all play out?

Let us examine the reality of these rumors and try and speculate which deals could happen versus deals that are highly unlikely.  Some make sense while others do not—it can be that simple.


Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox have shown interest in signing Carlos Beltran.

Carlos Beltran—Right Field

2013 Salary—$13 million

Rumor: Boston Brings Beltran Onboard

In his article, Rosenthal linked former Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Red Sox. 

How feasible is this?

For starters, signing Beltran would have to be in the wake of a number of transpiring elements.  It would mean Boston has closed the door on the Jacoby Ellsbury era.  In addition, Boston would have to consider what to do with its remaining outfielders—Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and prospect Jackie Bradley Jr.

Nava could—in theory—move to first base, opening up some room in a crowded outfield, but that would have to be in the wake of the Red Sox also losing Mike Napoli.

Beltran can still produce.  There is no doubting that.  He hit .296 last season with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs.  His bat would be a tremendous addition.

H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
Beltran would bring plenty of power to Boston's lineup.

Michael Terrill of Rant Sports makes the argument that a potential signing of Beltran would be a great addition to Boston's lineup.  He states that Beltran should switch to left field, which would keep Victorino in right.  He also agrees that the only way Beltran is signed is if Napoli walks.

There are two problems with this theory however.

First, Beltran is reportedly looking for a three- or four-year deal.  Secondly, Beltran is 37 years old. 

Do the Red Sox really want to spend what promises to be a lot of cash on a player entering the twilight of his career?  Probably not.

Taking those facts into consideration, along with the circumstances by which the deal would have to happen, and the Beltran deal does not make that much sense.

As a result, look for the Red Sox to shop elsewhere.

Conclusion: Fiction

 

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox want Jarrod Saltalamacchia back on their own terms.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia—Catcher

2013 Salary—$4.5 million

Rumor: Saltalamacchia Walks

The catcher situation is an interesting one for Boston.

Incumbent backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a player that the Red Sox would like to see back in Boston next season—only on their own terms.

The Red Sox have already made an offer to Saltalamacchia, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  The deal is reportedly worth less than $10 million and would be a two-year contract.

Boston's stance on this deal is pretty simple to understand.  They would like to have Saltalamacchia back on a short-term deal, which would give the team time to develop prospects like Blake Swihart and Christian Vasquez are ready to go, per Ben Shapiro of Masslive.com.

Two years is about as long as the Red Sox are willing to commit to any catcher at this point. 

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Boston has an offer out to Saltalamacchia. Yet it may not be enough to retain him.

With Saltalamacchia seeking a deal lasting at least three years, per Derek Stykalo of Fansided.com, Boston should be exploring other options.

Stykalo also mentions that the Chicago White Sox are reportedly interested in offering a longer deal to Saltalamacchia, which should be enough to pry him away from Boston.

Look for Saltalamacchia to depart.

Update: The Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly re-signed catcher Carlos Ruiz—a player that Boston was interested in.  While this thins out potential free agent targets, do not expect Saltalamacchia to return.

Conclusion: Fact

 

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Boston is one of a few teams interested in Brian McCann.

Brian McCann—Catcher

2013 Salary—$12 million

Rumor: Boston Signs McCann to a Monster Deal

Brian McCann is going to command a hefty contract this offseason.  There is no questioning that.

He is only 29 years old and has a lifetime .277 batting average with 176 career home runs and 661 RBIs.  McCann is strong defensively as well.

While there is no doubting that McCann would be a tremendous addition to Boston's lineup and provide solid defense behind the plate, the Red Sox have to consider some substantial obstacles to making this deal happen.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox would have to give up a draft pick if they signed McCann.

As mentioned, McCann will command a huge contract this offseason.  Reports state that he will likely get something in the way of a five-year deal worth $100 million, per Stykalo.

Further thwarting the possibility is the fact that Boston would have to give up a draft pick if he leaves the Atlanta Braves.

While some, like SB Nation writer Ben Buchanan, feel that signing McCann makes sense for the Red Sox, this particular deal seems much more fiction than fact at this point.

As stated with the Saltalamacchia situation, Boston already has two catching prospects waiting for their chance.  McCann would not only eat up a lot of money that could be spent elsewhere, but his tenure would keep both prospects from making their debut for some time.

If the market on McCann was thin—it is not—the Red Sox could get away with signing him. 

The problem is that McCann is too expensive and wants a deal for much longer than anything Boston should give out at the position.

McCann will sign elsewhere.

Conclusion: Fiction

 

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Boston is looking at the likelihood of Stephen Drew's departure.

Stephen Drew—Shortstop

2013 Salary—$9.5 million

Rumor: Drew Walks via Free Agency

Shortstop Stephen Drew is an interesting story for Boston.

Offensively speaking, he has been trending downward since his days with the Arizona Diamondbacks—hitting .253/.443/.777 in 2013 compared to his .291/.502/.836 campaign in 2008.

Drew is solid with the glove however.  Teams know the importance of having solid defense at shortstop, and Drew provides that. 

After finishing his contract year, Drew was offered a qualifying offer from the Red Sox and subsequently turned it down.

Now it appears as if Drew is set to leave Boston for good, per Gordon Edes of ESPN.

"We're still talking with him and we'd like to have him back," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told the Boston Globe via Edes. "We'll see what happens."

The likelihood of that happening at this point is slim.

For starters, the shortstop market is thin this offseason and Drew is likely going to be sought after by a number of teams.  In addition, Drew's agent is Scott Boras—a name that automatically draws up notions of hefty contracts.

Elsa/Getty Images
All signs point to Drew not returning to Boston in 2014.

Boston will have to overcome Drew's departure, but they are in a good position to do so.  Xander Bogaerts is a nice option to plug the gap at shortstop and the team can still rely on Will Middlebrooks to hold down third base, shoring up the left side of Boston's infield.

Drew's departure is not a significant blow to the Red Sox this offseason.  Like many pending free agents, they would like to have him back, but only if the cost was right.

It does not look like it will be.

Conclusion: Fact

 

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Napoli should seek a long-term deal after his 2013 one-year contract.

Mike Napoli—First Base

2013 Salary—$5 million

Rumor: Boston Re-signs Napoli to a Long-Term Deal

It would be hard for Boston fans to see first baseman Mike Napoli leave after what he did for the Red Sox in 2013.

Napoli initially signed a three-year deal with Boston before 2013 before a degenerative hip condition forced both parties to agree to a one-year, $5 million deal, per Paul Hagen of MLB.com.

Hagen also reports that the Red Sox are not concerned with the ailment and are interested in bringing him back.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington commented on this via Hagen by saying:

We've had a very good relationship with Mike on a number of levels, including his health, since we originally agreed to terms last winter.  Mike and his agent, [Brian Grieper], have always been fully transparent about what's going on, and we appreciate that.  The most important thing, I think, is that he played a full year and had no issues.  We don't have any reason to have any more concern than we did last winter.  As I've said before, we absolutely have interest in having him back and we'll keep talking to him.

Elsa/Getty Images
Napoli has turned down Boston's qualifying offer.

After Napoli declined Boston's qualifying offer, the two parties will have to come to terms on a new contract if Napoli elects to remain with the Red Sox.

Napoli will unquestionably want to get paid after posting a .259 batting average with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs in 2013.

One major obstacle between Napoli and a Red Sox reunion could be the Texas Rangers who are reported to have significant interest in bringing him back.

Both Peter Gammons and Buster Olney of ESPN feel that this is a big possibility.

One thing we do know is that Napoli loves Boston and would love to stay, per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com

I want to be here. I love this place.  They've treated me so good here.  The way they've taken care of me, its’ unbelievable.  When the time comes I’m pretty sure we’re going to have some conversations.  I hope to be back here next year.

The good news is that Boston appears to be in the works for a long-term deal with Napoli, per Ricky Doyle of NESN.com.

Elsa/Getty Images
Napoli should stay in Boston and chances are he will.

While the negotiations have not produced anything yet, it is a good step for Boston if they want to retain Napoli's services.  Both parties like each other and both appear interested in Napoli staying with the Red Sox.

As such, it is feasible that Napoli remains in Boston.  This time however, it may be for a few more years.

Conclusion: Fact


Which scenario takes place for Boston?

Submit Vote vote to see results

As with any rumors, it may be hard to disseminate between fact and fiction.

The Red Sox, like any other MLB team, are always examining their present and future options.  This offseason will be no different.

There are a certain number of players that Boston will want to employ in 2014.  The only question is whether or not the cost is worth it.

At any rate, look for the Red Sox to be very active over the coming weeks.  They have some needs and would like some upgrades.  That much is known.  How Cherington goes about this is yet to be determined.

Hopefully, the previous evaluation gives some insight to what actually may take place.

 

All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.  Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com.

 

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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