Boston Red Sox: 10 Free Agents They Should Target in the Offseason
Despite having arguably the best roster on paper when entering the 2011 season, it is clear that the Boston Red Sox did not have the right players to make a deep run into the playoffs.
While the main focus should be finding their next manager at the moment, Theo Epstein—if he stays—should also begin focusing on the free agents he wants to target this offseason.
Here are 10 free agents the Red Sox should target when the World Series concludes and the free agent period opens.
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Josh Willingham would have been a perfect addition to the 2011 Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline, as they needed a right-handed outfield bat.
While playing for Oakland in 2011, Willingham hit 29 home runs and knocked in 98 to go along with a .246 batting average.
With J.D. Drew officially off the books, the Red Sox will need someone to play right field. Willingham could either fill in full-time or platoon with one of the young lefties, Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish.
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Michael Cuddyer has been a great, versatile player for the Minnesota Twins for a long time—something the Boston Red Sox could use on future teams.
Last season, he hit .284 for the Twins with 20 home runs and 70 RBI, while playing four different positions, including pitcher.
Throughout his career, he has played all three outfield positions, and every infield position except for short stop: The ultimate utility man.
He may be difficult to pry away from the Twins, as he has spent his whole career in Minnesota, but it would be wise for the Red Sox to target a player like Cuddyer.
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With Jed Lowrie possibly becoming the starting shortstop, the Red Sox will need a backup plan, due to Lowrie's history of getting hurt.
Ramon Santiago, although not great at the bat, would be a great addition, as he can play second base, third base and shortstop.
If the Red Sox don't pick up Marco Scutaro's option, they will need some sort of utility infielder to step in for injuries, and Santiago wouldn't be a bad option.
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One thing that the Red Sox have done in the past is to go after reclamation projects at the starting pitcher position, and Scott Kazmir would be a perfect candidate for one of those signings.
Despite seeing little success since 2009 with the Los Angeles Angels, Kazmir is still just 27 years old and could still have a future.
He was released last season after pitching just 1.2 innings for the Angels, in which he allowed five runs—good enough for an ERA of 27.00.
The Red Sox could offer Kazmir a contract full of incentives, meaning they wouldn't have to pay him millions unless he performs well.
Unless there are health issues involved with Kazmir's recent struggles, targeting him this offseason would make complete sense.
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Instead of going after another reclamation project like Kazmir, the Red Sox should target a proven guy like Mark Buehrle.
Down the stretch, it was apparent that the Red Sox were lacking starting pitching, and an overload in the offseason would be a good way to go.
The price tag on a guy like Buehrle would be a little higher than a reclamation project like Kazmir, but he has consistently been a good pitcher in all of his 12 years in the big leagues, making him a welcome addition to the Red Sox rotation.
Last season with the White Sox, he posted a 12-9 record to go along with a 3.59 ERA—a much better line than anyone on the Red Sox other than Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
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Despite a bad second half for the Chicago White Sox, Jason Frasor has shown he can be a successful reliever in the American League East.
He started the 2011 season with the Toronto Blue Jays and posted a 2.98 ERA in 44 games.
The Red Sox's September collapse showed just how unreliable their bullpen was, and they definitely need to add some new faces.
Instead of going after the reclamation guys as usual, the Red Sox should target proven bullpen guys like Frasor.
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Just a few years ago, Jonathan Broxton was an All-Star player. After an off year in 2011, Broxton hits the free agent market and should be targeted by the Red Sox.
Broxton only pitched in 14 games for Los Angeles and posted a 5.68 ERA, ultimately hurting his potential free agent contract.
He could be viewed as a reclamation project for the Red Sox, as he underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery in September.
If the Red Sox can sign Broxton for an incentive-laden contract, it would be in their best interest to target him.
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After the epic September collapse was complete, David Ortiz officially became a free agent.
Big Papi has been the heart and soul of the Red Sox ever since Theo Epstein brought him to the team in 2003.
This seems like a must-sign to me.
Ortiz showed no signs of slowing down, hitting .309 with 29 home runs and 96 RBI in 2011, despite being 35 years old.
The only way the Red Sox shouldn't bring Ortiz back is if he asks for some ridiculous deal, but if they can sign him to a one-year deal worth between $10-15 million dollars, it would be wise to bring Papi back.
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Jonathan Papelbon had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2011 and showed the Red Sox why they need to re-sign him.
Despite blowing the save in Game 162, Papelbon had a 2.94 ERA in 2011 to go along with 31 saves.
Another good reason to sign Papelbon is Daniel Bard's September woes, in which he posted an ERA of over 10, showing that he may not be ready for the high-pressure situations that a closer has to encounter.
Closers like Papelbon do not grow on trees, and it would be wise for the Red Sox to bring him back for the 2012 season.
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The thought of Jed Lowrie as the Red Sox's starting shortstop is a scary one and, for that reason alone, the Red Sox should bring Marco Scutaro back for at least another season.
Scutaro proved to be a valuable asset down the stretch for the Red Sox, posting a .387 batting average in September with 21 RBI and 18 runs scored.
Jose Iglesias has yet to show the ability to hit at a major-league-ready level, and still needs at least another year to develop. To go along with Jed Lowrie's unreliability, it makes sense to bring back Scutaro.
The Red Sox could either pick up his option or restructure a new, one-year deal for Scutaro. Either way, it would be wise to bring him back for 2012.