Anyone who thought that the Boston Red Sox would sit back and relax this offseason without making a splash following their blockbuster salary dump last season clearly has not been paying attention to how this team operates. Yes, the Red Sox dealt away Kevin Youkilis, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett last season to the Los Angeles Dodgers to clear payroll. But they did so in order to clear payroll to reload. Not to rebuild.
Contrary to popular belief, there is quite a big difference.
The Red Sox are going to spend money this offseason. They may not approach the numbers that they had on the books with the likes of Gonzalez and Crawford, but they are not going to stand pat as they watch teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays surpass them in terms of both salary and talent level.
That will simply be unacceptable and will not be tolerated from the Fenway faithful.
That is why it appears as if the Red Sox are setting their sights on three players over the next week. Red Sox Nation should not get too excited, as these three players are not Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and Zack Greinke. In fact, it is unlikely that Boston makes a strong push to sign any of the top three free agents on the market.
But that does not mean that the trio they have focused their attention on cannot help the team in a major way, both in the clubhouse and on the field.
The Red Sox are looking to bring back Cody Ross, but also to add Nick Swisher from the New York Yankees and Mike Napoli from the Texas Rangers. Ross performed well in Boston last season, and Swisher and Napoli are both good fits for this lineup, as they may not be high batting average guys, but their power numbers more than make up for what they lack in terms of average.
They are also versatile. Ross can play right or left field, and even fill in in center on occasion and serve as the designated hitter. Swisher can man right field or take over at first base, while Napoli can catch a few games to spell Jarrod Saltalamacchia and play some first as well. Players like that are often hard to come by nowadays.
Napoli seems as if he would very much like to sign with the Red Sox. With a three year offer reportedly on the table already, if Boston is willing to add a fourth year, this deal could get done very soon. Swisher has also been in talks to jump ship to his former team’s biggest rival, and is seeking a three year deal. Boston has been looking to retain Ross all along.
I am not saying that any of the three are guarantees, as they are likely to have multiple suitors. Any team who cannot afford the likes of Hamilton, Bourn and other top offensive free agents will have to turn their attention to the second tier wave of players, including Swisher, Napoli and Ross. If the Red Sox can land all three, it would be quite a large boon for them this offseason.
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