2012 MLB Free Agency: 10 Players the Boston Red Sox Should Target

Chuck Platt@chuck_plattCorrespondent IIOctober 16, 2011

2012 MLB Free Agency: 10 Players the Boston Red Sox Should Target

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    With big questions at starting pitching, a lean bullpen and no sure thing in right field, the Boston Red Sox are not hurting for a lack of issues to tackle through free agency.

    Barring the unforeseeable, the Red Sox will not be after Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, this offseason's two biggest names on the market.

    But the Red Sox will at least look at C.J. Wilson and CC Sabathia. Besides these two big-name lefty hurlers, there are a handful of other players available who could be very attractive and reasonably affordable options.

1. David Ortiz

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    Re-signing David Ortiz is imperative.

    Other veterans like Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek are clearly past their primes. But Ortiz, who turns 36 next month, has truly proved the past couple of years that he's still got plenty left in the tank.

    Big Papi is also such an integral member of the franchise. The Sox can't afford to lose his bat nor his presence.   

2. Aramis Ramirez

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    Aramis Ramirez, who had a strong contract year, is a very attractive option for the Red Sox if they trade Kevin Youkilis or they do not re-sign David Ortiz.

    In either event, Ramirez would come to Boston to be their everyday third baseman.

    Boston might be one of the few teams that could satisfy Ramirez's desire to play on a multi-year contract with a contender. 

3. Edwin Jackson

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    It's no secret that the Red Sox are hurting for pitching. 

    Edwin Jackson, 28, might be a practical solution for Boston.

    Jackson has bounced around the past few years, from Detroit to Arizona to Chicago and, now, St. Louis, where he's shining bright for a Cardinals squad a game away from the World Series.

    His postseason success might inflate his value, however any pitcher with a pulse is worth a look from the Red Sox at this juncture.

4. Joel Piñeiro

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    Joel Piñeiro struggled as a reliever with the Red Sox back in 2007. Boston eventually DFA'ed him to clear a roster spot for Jon Lester.

    Lester finished 2007 winning the clinching game of the World Series in Denver.

    But I digress.

    After his miserable stint in Boston, Piñeiro was picked up by the Cardinals where he became another successful Dave Duncan project.

    Piñeiro has pitched the past two seasons with the Angels. He was good in 2010 (3.84 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), and bad in 2011 (5.13 ERA, 1.51 WHIP). 

    Piñeiro finished on a strong note, winning two of his last four starts, and he would stand to be a very solid low-risk, high-reward option for a Boston rotation that desperately needs rehabilitation. 

5. Paul Maholm

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    Like Piñeiro, Paul Maholm, 29, would be a very affordable option for the Red Sox.

    Maholm went 6-14 in 2011 with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP over 162.1 innings pitched.

    The Pirates, however, may elect to pick up their $9.75 million team option on Maholm if they feel they have a potential trade lined up involving him.

6. C.J. Wilson

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    C.J. Wilson has been an absolute beast the past two seasons and stands to command a monstrous contract this winter.

    The Rangers will likely make a big push to keep their big guy with them, however Boston should inquire into Wilson, if only to drive up his price for either the Rangers, the Yankees or whoever else makes a push for his services.

    But Wilson to the Red Sox? No thanks.

7. CC Sabathia

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    Unlike C.J. Wilson, CC Sabathia is someone the Red Sox should aggressively pursue. 

    Sabathia has yet to exercise his opt-out, however there's little reason to imagine he won't. The real question is what kind of desire Sabathia has to leave New York.

    Like Wilson, the Red Sox will inquire into Sabathia to up his price.

    Unlike Wilson though, Sabathia is a pitcher the Sox should seriously consider.

    Sabathia has, almost quietly even, delivered top-shelf seasons the past three years in the Bronx. He's proven, many times over, that he has what it takes to succeed on the game's biggest stages.  

8. Jonathan Papelbon

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    Like CC Sabathia, Jonathan Papelbon has delivered the goods time and time again in a high-pressure market.

    Papelbon blew two big saves down the stretch, however his season as a whole was terrific. 

    After hitting a malaise of sorts in 2010, Paps bounced back in a big way this season.

    The Red Sox will have to break the bank to retain Papelbon's services, however he is one guy who will be worth every penny of his contract.

9. Heath Bell

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    If Papelbon becomes more expensive than Boston cares for, Heath Bell might become an attractive option.

    The Padres closer of the past three seasons won't be a cheap option either, but he won't go for as much as Papelbon. 

    One thing to keep in mind, however, is Bell's age. He just turned 34 last month.

10. Michael Cuddyer

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    Right field in 2012 is no sure thing.

    Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish are both chomping at the bit, but the Red Sox brass don't seem fully sold on either of them. 

    One of them, likely Reddick, will be traded this winter.

    In the mean time, what the Sox would really love to have is a right-handed, veteran bat who they can either lean on as reliable fourth outfielder or who could take the reins for a season or two in right.

    In other words, they want a Mike Cameron situation that doesn't blow up in their face. Michael Cuddyer could be just their guy.

    Cuddyer, 32, is also a  bit of a general utility player, so he could still get playing time even if he doesn't get the bulk of the starts in the right.