The Boston Red Sox have several decisions to make this offseason in the wake of their World Series victory against the St. Louis Cardinals, but luckily for them, there don't appear to be too many major issues for them this winter.
Sure, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli are free agents, but the Red Sox presumably have the cash to be in on each of the players until they decide where they'd like to sign. If nothing else, expect the Red Sox to drive up their price for other teams.
Most of Boston's offseason thus far has been comprised of rumors behind the dish, and that's an area that will need to be addressed by spring training.
Multiple reports would suggest that they're on their way to doing so.
The Catching Conundrum
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is one of Boston's free agents, though he'll be courted by multiple teams this offseason.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com believes that the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies or Toronto Blue Jays could make a run at Salty, with the Red Sox of course being the in the mix as well. Heyman cites options like A.J. Pierzynski and Dioner Navarro as possibilities for Boston as well, but general manager Ben Cherington may have other ideas for a backstop.
Should Boston re-sign Salty?
Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox have discussed opening the season with Ryan Lavarnway splitting time behind the plate with 37-year-old David Ross. This would be done in the hopes of using them as stopgap options until prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart are ready to compete at the major league level.
Saltalamacchia put together arguably his most consistent season in 2013, hitting .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI. The in-house options presented by Lauber likely wouldn't be able to equal that production.
Infielder Michael Young appears to be interested in joining an American League East club, as Peter Gammons reports that the 37-year-old is interested in joining either the Red Sox or Baltimore Orioles.
Sure, Michael Young is interesting(.279/.335/.395) to teams he's reached out to like O's, Rd Sox...— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) November 27, 2013
It's unclear as to whether or not the teams have expressed interest in him, but it seems as if he'd be more than willing should the teams go after him. For a team like the Red Sox, Young would be a quality super-utility infielder that could find his way into semi-regular at-bats at third base.
Will Middlebrooks was nothing special last season, and Xander Bogaerts took at-bats away from him late in the season. If Stephen Drew leaves via free agency, Bogaerts could slide over to short and surrender third to Middlebrooks.
Young would give them a quality backup plan.
A team-friendly one-year deal would likely be reached with Young, and there really isn't a downside to bringing him aboard. Maybe Gammons' tweet will spark some interest.
Patience with Mike Napoli
The Red Sox will have a huge hole at first base if they don't re-sign Mike Napoli, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that they plan on being patient in their pursuit of him this winter.
Red Sox seem to be letting Mike Napoli market develop a bit before deciding on what final offer they'll make.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 26, 2013
After signing a one-year deal with Boston last offseason, Napoli more than earned the right to seek a multiyear deal during the season. He hit .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI in the middle of the lineup, and he could likely reel in a deal similar to Jhonny Peralta's on the open market.
In his stead, the Red Sox could convert outfielder Daniel Nava to first base. That wouldn't be ideal, however, as Napoli is actually a very good defensive first baseman and supplies much more pop to the lineup.
Coming off a World Series win, the Red Sox would be wise to bring back Napoli. He made an impact on the lineup and in the clubhouse, and those types of players are few and far between.