The Sox already splurged during the regular season with the acquisitions of Jake Peavy and Alex Rios.
However, they may not be done spending. Even with those two large contracts added to the payroll and factoring in $10 million for arbitration figures, their payroll would still only reach about $80 million. Their payroll for last season was $96 million on opening day, which theoretically gives them some wiggle room financially.
So let's say the Sox venture into the free agent market. Which players might interest them?
Any player on this list is a fit both financially and with the roster in my opinion. You will not see any big money starting pitchers on the list or guys like Matt Holliday and Jason Bay that could be out of their price range. I've also left off any Scott Boras clients because the Sox try to avoid dealing with him.
This isn't the greatest group of free agents, but there's still some potential for the Sox to upgrade their roster.
He hasn't always been a dependable reliever, especially in the health department. However, he's had a solid season for Detroit and could help solidify the Sox pen.
Betancourt will be one of the better relievers on the market. He has good stuff and could help solve their late-inning issues.
On the downside, he'll turn 35 early next season and could be looking for a multi-year deal. He was also far more effective when he was in the NL this season.
Second base was one of the weakest positions for the Sox last year. Adding Hudson would solve that issue rather quickly.
He hits for a solid average and has good gap power, as well as nice range at second. He signed cheaply with the Dodgers this year, but could be more expensive next year.
Lopez is another option on the market to try to upgrade at second base. He hasn't always produced, but he is having a solid year at the plate with a .308 average and an on base percentage of .382.
However, the Sox might not see him as enough of an upgrade to send a significant sum of money on him. This was one of his best seasons and he only has a career OBP of .338. If they believe that is what he'll do long term, they'll probably just stick with Nix and Getz.
Figgins has been a popular name among Sox fans and they might finally have a shot to get him.
The benefits are obvious. Figgins has great speed and a career OBP of .363. He could be a big boost at the top of the order. His versatility defensively is also a major asset.
However, it could be tough to pry him away from the Angels. It could take a four or five year deal starting at eight figures, which is a lot to swallow for a 31 year old that relies heavily on his speed.
They also might have to re-arrange their lineup a bit if they signed him. He's played very well at third base the last two years, the spot currently occupied by franchise darling Gordon Beckham. One of them would have to change positions.
With Jermaine Dye likely on his way out, an outfielder with Abreu's skills could be a huge boost. The Sox desperately need more guys that can get on base and Abreu has a career .404 on base percentage. He's also driven in 100 runs seven years in a row and still has good speed.
However, finding a fit for him defensively will be harder. Rios is entrenched in center field, and the Sox also will have Carlos Quentin and likely Scott Podsednik as other options. He has typically played right field, but doesn't do it well. The defense of Dye was painful this year and I don't know that the Sox would want a similar type of player there. He'd fit better in left, but the same could be said for Quentin and Podsednik.
If I'm the Sox, I would do everything I can to sign him. Then I'd stick Abreu in left with Quentin in right and use Podsednik as my fourth outfielder. The damage that he could do from the three spot in their lineup is well worth it.
The Sox could also play him at DH, but it sounds like the team would rather use that spot to rest their regulars than have an every day designated hitter.
Abreu could also be looking for too many years or too much money after settling for a reasonable contract last year.
Will the Sox sign any of these guys? Who knows. Predicting the moves of Kenny Williams has always been extremely difficult. It seems that they have some money to work with, though that could change based on financial projections for 2010. Expect them to make some kind of moves after a disappointing second half.
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