The 2012 MLB winter meetings started off with a splash for the Boston Red Sox yesterday after they reportedly signed free agent, first baseman/ catcher, Mike Napoli to a 3 year deal for $13 million annually. That deal was just the first of hopefully many deals made by General Manager Ben Cherington. As soon as the Napoli deal was reported the rumor wheel began turning faster and faster.
The first rumor was that the Red Sox were talking to Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher about a contract. The Red Sox have yet to re-sign outfielder Cody Ross, and by signing Swisher, it would appear the Red Sox would part ways with Ross, unless of course there is a bigger plan they have in mind of moving a piece like Jacoby Ellsbury.
Last season for the Yankees Nick Swisher hit .272 with 24 homeruns, and 93 RBI’s. Ross who was one of the few bright spots in the Red Sox dismal season, hit .267 with 22 homeruns, and 81 RBI’s. Signing Swisher over Ross would essentially replace Ross with an identical hitter. With the signing of Johnny Gomes last week there would be no need for both Ross and Swisher.
Another rumor swirling around the twittersphere involved the New York Mets Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey. According to sources the Red Sox have talked to the Mets at the winter meetings, and possibly before the winter meeting even started. To trade for the Cy Young winner, it would appear to take multiple Red Sox top prospects including Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley, who the Red Sox won’t trade unless they really feel like they are getting a great player in return.
Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher who had an ERA of 2.73 last year, and he had an almost as impressive ERA in 2010 with an ERA of 2.84. His ERA might be good, but take into account where he pitches most for the Mets; Citi Field, a pitcher friendly ballpark. Fenway is anything but a pitchers ballpark, and Dickey’s knuckleball might become problematic if he pitched for the Red Sox. Although the Red Sox need all the pitching help they can get, Dickey would not be a wise choice especially since his price tag would appear to be very high.
Another name that’s been floating around sports talk radio, and social media sites since before the season ended is Rangers outfielder, Josh Hamilton. With the signing of Gomes last week, and the possibility of Nick Swisher, the Red Sox would have no room for Hamilton in the outfield. If the Red Sox wanted to move somebody like Jacoby Ellsbury and bring in Hamilton, it would be much better for them to unload an extra outfielder before signing a big free agent like Hamilton.
Although Hamilton is a good ballplayer, much has been speculated about how he would work out in Boston with lots of media pressure, and his past history of alcoholism and drug use. If the Red Sox could sign him to a 3 year deal or less, and move Ellsbury, it might be worth the risk to sign Hamilton. Then again, if the Red Sox brought in a player like Hamilton couldn’t that undo all the progress they made to ride the clubhouse of toxins? Hamilton is not known as the best clubhouse leader, and after what happened in 2011 and 2012, bringing in Hamilton would be foolish for Boston.
Another outfielder being mentioned is the Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino. Again the Red Sox would either have to dump an outfielder, or choose between, Victorino, Swisher, and Hamilton. Victorino was a fan favorite when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies for over 7 years before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline last year. Victorino’s numbers have declined over the past few years as he hit just .255 between Philadelphia and Los Angeles last year. That was his career worst in batting average, and there’s no reason to believe he might his stats might go back up, especially if he were to play in a tougher division like the AL East.
Within the next week, we should hear more and more rumors, and more confirmation of deals occurring throughout Major League Baseball. Not every deal that happens will happen this week, but after the week is over, each team should have a better feel of where they stand for the rest of the offseason, and what they need to do going forward. For the Red Sox, no matter what they do, they should be in better shape than what they were in last year.