Now that the Red Sox are the 2013 World Series champions, the off-season has begun. The Red Sox office is gearing up to make some moves that will hopefully send them back to the fall classic next season. These are some of the most important priorities the Red Sox should be thinking about both publically and privately.
1. Re-signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Salty might have had trouble in the playoffs which make people think the sox might be thinking twice about offering him a contract. I think that’s stupid. I few bad games shouldn’t wipe out an entire season of work. He is coming off a good year .273 BA 14 HR 65 RBI While I feel like he has been floating around Baseball forever, he is still only 28 years old. His defense is ok and he fits well with this Boston pitching staff. When you look at the open market for catchers this off-season there isn’t much out there and I can’t see David Ross being the sox full time catcher. He has a good defense but his offense is only good in small doses. I expect quite a few teams to go after Salty this off-season. Hopefully, the sox can keep him for a reasonable price.
2. Explore trading John Lackey
Despite a unbalanced win/loss record in 2013 due to getting horrible run support, Lackey had his best season in a Red Sox uniform and posted a 3.52 ERA in 189.1 IP So your probably wondering why I think we should explore trading him. Well, think about it. This is his first year pitching after Tommy John surgery. They say pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery are at there best the following season and then they level off after that. My point is, Lackey won’t get any better or be any more valuable than he was in 2013. So trade him while his stock his high. It might be difficult though. He will get paid a little over 15-million next season. So I am sure the sox would need to eat some of that money. However, he has a club option where he gets paid only $500,000 if he pitches in 2015 due to missing significant time with his shoulder injury. That might make him more appealing to other teams.
3. Re-signing Mike Napoli
Yes he can be a pain to watch at the plate sometimes and is streaky as hell and strikes out a lot but he puts up decent numbers .259 AVG 23 HR and he had a career high in doubles with 38. When he gets hot he can carry a team for a week or so. His defense at first has been good and his hip hasn’t been an issue. I would be comfortable giving him a two year deal with a third option year. Since he has been able to prove he can remain healthy a lot of teams will be going after him this winter.
4. Make Jacoby Ellsbury a multi year deal but don’t be afraid to let him walk
The Sox should make him an offer but most likely he is gone. Ellsbury is a very solid leadoff hitter, plays a great center field and his speed on the base paths is unmatched. He stole 52 bases and got caught only 4 times. He is a Scott Boras client which means the asking price is going to be high and I’m sure there will be at least one team dumb enough to pay it. He also is 30-years old. Lets face it. He won’t get any faster.
5. Teach Clay Buchholz to put on some big boy pants!
Buchholz could very well be in a Boston uniform through the 2017 season but in 2013 despite putting up great numbers, (12-1 1.74 ERA) I have never seen a player miss so much time and have so little wrong with them. Some inflammation and a sore neck! He had no structural damage to anything and he misses three months!? Seriously!? Pitching when something doesn’t feel right must suck but his doctors cleared him and still he whined about not feeling right. I understand you don’t want to hurt yourself even more but no pitcher stays 100% healthy as the season goes on. He should have trusted his doctors and needs to learn how to battle through minor injuries.
No doubt these five topics will come up this off-season. I am sure many other opportunities, potential trade situations and issues will also cross the red sox front office this off-season. What will it take for this team to repeat? Let the off-season fun begin!