2012 could be a crucial bridge year for the Red Sox, but that does not mean they cannot be competitive.
With J.D. Drew's contract finally up, right field is open in Fenway. Ryan Kalish is the obvious No. 1 option. The 23-year-old lefty broke onto the scene in 2010, hitting .252/.305/.405 in 53 games with Boston, notching four homers and 10 swipes. Kalish has great patience, athletic defense and a dirt dog mentality that the Sox desperately needs.
If Ortiz walks, Boston has big right-hander Ryan Lavarnway ready for DH duties. The 24-year-old, drafted out of Yale, has consistently mashed on the Sox farm. 2011 was no exception, as he blasted 32 homers between AA and AAA, posting a 0.935 minor league OPS. A right-handed power bat could bring balance to the Sox lineup, and Lavarnway has a great track record that shows he is ready.
Then there is Jose Iglesias. The bat has not yet developed, but the defense is major league ready. The 21 year old Cuban defector could provide wins by his stellar glove alone. With a pitching staff, that has struggled, a defensive injection could be just what the big league club needs in 2012.
As noted before, the Red Sox have some impending free agents. If Ortiz and Papelbon walk, they will be type-A free agents. If Boston declines Marco Scutaro's option, he could also become a type-A free agent. The last time the Sox had three type-A free agents leave was 2005—that year they drafted Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden, all in the first round.