After trading for John Farrell to mange the Boston Red Sox in 2013, Ben Cherington now needs to start making some moves that have an even bigger, more direct impact on how this team wins games. Whether it be in the bullpen, left field or first base (or perhaps all three), the Red Sox need a couple new pieces in order to move on from the horrid 2012 season, and as a myriad of bad contracts have taught them, useful is better than popular when it comes to signing free agents.
ESPN recently posted a list of 10 free agents who are set for big raises this offeason, and it’s worth a look to see if any of these players would be fits for Boston.
To get started, the Red Sox need at least one more starting pitcher to bolster the rotation, so we’ll take a glance at the options for the 2013 staff.
First, there’s Kyle Lohse from the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2012 alone, he finished with a 2.46 ERA and a 16-3 record. His WAR (wins above the replacement-level player) was 3.6, which was in the top-30 in all of MLB. He also finished with 211 innings pitched and a career-high 143 strikeouts. He is looking for at least a three-year deal at the age of 34 and the Sox have the money to pay him $8-12 million per season as a No. 3 or 4 starter. The question is, is it the smart move? Lohse has never been the flashy type, but at his advanced age, there’s always inherent risk in signing this type of pitcher; you’ll only have to go back as far as Lackey to see this.
Another starting pitcher option on this list that caught my eye was Edwin Jackson.
The 29-year-old is at the best a fourth starter and could really be something of a commodity for the Red Sox. He has started 31 or more games in five straight seasons, proving durability, and has had some experience with the Tampa Bay Rays against the AL East.
Jackson’s 10-11 record with the Washington Nationals in 2012 may not be impressive, but he pitched decently effectively with a 4.03 ERA. His lackluster second half brought his ERA up, but he still has been healthy for most of his MLB career. He joins the list of pitchers, both good and mediocre, who have thrown a no-hitter, but historically this isn’t the most rock-solid predictor of future success. If anything, it shows he can be lightning in a bottle. How often will he harness than lightning next year?
For the outfield spot, the only option on the list that would suit the Red Sox’ needs is Angel Pagan. The San Francisco Giants center fielder had a breakout season after being traded from the New York Mets with 95 runs scored, 61 extra-base hits and a career-high 29 stolen bases.
The 31-year-old would be a solid option in center if the Sox trade away Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason. Or, in the meantime, they might just have Pagan play left until Ellsbury is traded before the trade deadline. Ellsbury would be expensive to keep, after waking up the past few seasons, and Pagan has proven his worth in the National League; maybe it’s time for him to prove himself in a tougher hitting division. Both players are fast and hit singles, but one is vastly cheaper, while the other would certainly yield a good haul in prospects- a gold mine for a rebuilding team.
The last player on the list that would be a great sign for the Red Sox would have to be reliever Joel Peralta. He may be 36 years old, but he still has the stuff of an electric setup man. He finished 2012 with 77 appearances and a career-high 11.29 strikeouts per nine innings.
The right-handed reliever would be great in front of the likes of Andrew Bailey to shutdown opposing offenses in the eighth inning. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt if the Red Sox stole him away from the Rays, who are battling for supremacy and relevancy in the ever-competitive AL East as well. Relievers are volatile, and often perform better home-grown; that being said, the right arm can do wonders for a hurting bullpen.
The Sox, as a whole, need rebuilding work. How good of an architect will Ben Cherington be?
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