Let’s get one thing clear, the Red Sox cannot find replacements for Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, and improve offensively. Martinez batted .400 against lefties, Beltre was the best player on the team. Good luck finding that level of production on the trade market.
As far as replacing Victor Martinez, there is one thing everyone should remember: The Red Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia right now. It would not take much to be an improvement.
With Beltre, the Red Sox have some flexibility. They can go after a third baseman or move Kevin Youkilis to the hot corner and sign someone to play first.
The Red Sox might feel they can get away with doing nothing major this offseason. (Well, they can get by on the field, the front office would be crucified by the media and fans.)
Ellsbury, Drew and Cameron/Kalish in the outfield, Salty catching, and a one-year stop-gap at first or third, with Youk playing the other, might make sense as a temporary solution, biding them over until the trade deadline.
Alternatively, they could settle for that for the year, then go after the free agent Adrian Gonzalez in the winter. It will not win them any fans—nor will it any championships—but it is an option.
There are not many good players obviously available for a trade, and the free agent market is stronger, particularly for a catcher, with the likes of Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas and AJ Pierzynski providing decent options.
At first base, there is Carlos Pena (who might sign a Beltre-esque one-year deal), Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee and Adam Dunn. With Theo Epstein’s track record of reluctance when it comes to big trades, free agency is the most likely route.
Loney’s 2010 was promising enough before he had a poor August and September. He finished with a line of .267/.329/.395, each number was the worst of his career. However, he has missed only six games in the last three years and provided roughly 12 home runs and 90 RBIs. The Dodgers could non-tender him, though it is a slim possibility, and a trade might make sense.
Doumit is owed $5.1 million for next year, and the Pirates would be keen to get shot of that contract. He is a risky pickup, but could be acquired relatively cheaply, especially after batting .250 and .251 the last two years.
The biggest thing he has going in his favour is his 2008 season, when he batted .318 and hit 15 home runs in 116 games. Whilst his power has remained the same, his average has fallen almost 70 points.
Theo Epstein has shown continued interest in Martin, and there is a fairly good chance the Sox will make a move. After back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers could non-tender him, with his salary ($5m last year) disproportionate to his future performance.
However, it was only a few years ago that he was regarded as one of the best in the game, winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in 2007 and making the All-Star team that year and next.
A hip injury limited him in 2010, but he is expected to have recovered fully by Spring Training.
Just like Martin, Napoli is a non-tender candidate. Rumors about that can kill the market for a player, but Napoli is still a solid option for Boston. He only batted .238 last year, but still hit 28 home runs.
One cause for concern is that he played more games at first base than he did behind the plate in 2010 (70 to 66), although when he was playing first, he did so reasonably well, with a 4.3 UZR/150.
He will make $5.5m next year, which is a lot for a player who batted below .200 and slugged just .342 last year. Tampa Bay might see John Jaso as their catcher for the future—he performed well, batting .263 in 109 games.
The only reason Jaso was playing was that Shoppach underwent surgery on his knee. Injury concerns might make him cheaper than he otherwise would be, and whilst he would be a backup on many teams, he might edge Salty for the start in Boston.
Let’s start with what makes him undesirable: Mark Reynolds strikes out.
In his three seasons as a regular starter, he has led the Majors in Ks three times. Those three totals (204, 223, 211) are the three highest single-season totals in MLB history. So the guy whiffs a fair amount.
Also, he is under contract for 2011 and 2012 ($5m in ’11, $7m in ’12) which further diminishes his market value. And he batted below the Mendoza Line last year.
The good? He is only 27, his defense has improved every year, he averages 151 games a year, and he has power. His 162-game average is 35-100, with a .242 BA.
Gonzalez is potentially available to Boston at three points: Now, July 31 next year, and after the Orioles win the 2011 World Series (Just a thought; people laughed at the ’69 Mets, too), and of these, next offseason is the most likely, with Gonzalez’ agent saying the slugger wants to test free agency.
Bearing that in mind, it would be a risky move to trade for him now. Any deal would require a package along the lines of Ellsbury, Kalish, Anderson and Kelly. Perhaps not that much, but an awful lot. If the Sox give up all that, they need to sign Gonzalez to a long-term deal.
The rumors about Fielder being dealt just will not go away. He had a down year in 2010, yet finished with 32 home runs and 83 RBIs, whilst leading the Majors in walks.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Fielder is a great hitter. With a career UZR/150 of -6.7, his name belies his defensive shortcomings. The Brewers need pitching and Fielder will be a free agent after the 2011 season. The Red Sox do have good pitchers whom they might be willing to trade—even Daisuke Matsuzaka is a candidate.
The downside with Fielder is that, since it would take a lot to acquire him, the Red Sox would almost be duty-bound to sign him to an extension, and that would take them out of the Adrian Gonzalez picture.