With eight players filing for free agency and a few holes in the pitching staff, Ben Cherington has a lot to address in his first offseason as Red Sox general manager.
Don't expect Cherington to make any big splashes, like Albert Pujols or CJ Wilson, but he will sign some players that will help get the Red Sox back to the playoffs in 2012.
In 2011, one major piece the Boston Red Sox lacked was a solid, right handed bat in the outfield. Signing former Oakland A, Josh Willingham, could take care of that problem.
Willingham had a solid season for the A's in 2011, hitting .249 with 29 home runs and 98 RBI.
With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury in left and center field, Willingham could slide into right field and platoon with Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish.
Willingham made $6 million last year for the A's, so I could see him signing a one or two-year deal for around the same yearly amount this offseason.
The bullpen will be another area Ben Cherington has to address this offseason, and Chad Qualls would be a welcome addition to the Boston Red Sox.
Qualls pitched for the San Diego Padres in 2011, where he posted a 6-8 record with an ERA of 3.51.
A solid bullpen was something that former GM Theo Epstein was never really able to compile, so Cherington could gain major points with ownership and Red Sox Nation with a solid bullpen in 2012.
Contractually, Qualls will probably get a one-year deal around $3 or $4 million.
Despite being a failed experiment for the New York Yankees twice, Javier Vazquez could certainly help out the Boston Red Sox starting rotation in 2012.
With the news of John Lackey needing Tommy John Surgery, the Red Sox only have three of five spots in the rotation set in stone.
Last season, Vazquez showed he can still pitch when he posted a 13-11 record with a 3.59 ERA with the Marlins.
Not many people will be behind this signing, but the truth is, the Red Sox don't need to make a big splash and sign a guy like CJ Wilson, who I am not high on anyway, because they already have two or three top of the rotation guys in Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. What they really need is two guys who can fill in the four and five spots and not get lit up every fifth day like Lackey.
Vazquez has shown he can pitch in the American League during his stint with Chicago White Sox from 2006-2008 and Cherington should give him a shot if he comes at the right price.
He will likely get a one-year deal, as he is 35, for somewhere in the range of $6-10 million .
If the Boston Red Sox can pry Mark Buehrle away from the Chicago White Sox, he would be a great addition to the starting rotation.
Buehrle has been nothing but solid his entire career and could slot in right behind Buchholz in the No. 4 spot.
In 2011, he posted a 13-9 record with a 3.59 ERA on a bad White Sox team.
He will likely warrant a bigger contract than Vazquez as he is younger, 32, and has been more consistent over his career.
Look for Buehrle to ask for a three to four-year deal worth around $10 to $14 million a year.
Already picking up the option on shortstop Marco Scutaro, Ben Cherington would be wise to bring back two of his other free agents, David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon.
Ortiz showed no signs of slowing down in 2011, posting an average of .309 with 29 home runs and 96 RBI.
As for Papelbon, he may have blown the save in game 162 but he had one of the best seasons of his career, converting 31 saves with an ERA of 2.94.
Closers don't exactly grow on trees and there is no telling if Daniel Bard is ready to slot into that role, especially after posting an ERA over 10 for the month of September in 2011.
Cherington sure has his work cut out for him with this team and a good start would be bringing back two of the most successful players of the 2011 team.
Also check out William Penfields "5 FA's the Red Sox Should Avoid."
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