The Hot Stove season has begun with a few free agent signings yesterday including two players the Red Sox were rumored to have their eyes on. Carlos Ruiz re-signed with the Phillies with a 3 year deal worth $26 million. The Sox were rumored to be there til the end on Ruiz. I feel the Sox did not want to commit more than two years to Ruiz who is 35 years old, and have some catchers coming up through the system possibly ready as early as 2015.
Ruiz getting $8.6 million per year has to have Jarrod Saltalamacchia smiling as he is younger and coming off a better season than Ruiz. Salty was benched during the final three games of the World Series leaving Red Sox fans wondering what will happen this offseason at catcher. David Ross will be back as the backup but he cannot handle the workload of an everyday catcher and has had concussion problems. The other free agent catchers out there are Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski. McCann I believe will end up with the Yankees, as he will want a lot of money and a long term contract that the Red Sox should not give him. Pierzynski is an interesting option as he will only want a short term deal after coming off a one year deal with Texas. People have questioned his character issues in the past but this Red Sox team focuses on character I feel like he would not be a problem. He can still hit and his ra-ra attitude might actually add to the clubhouse. Ryan Hanigan, of the Reds is available for trade after they signed former Tigers catcher Brayan Pena last week. This could be interesting option as he would be cheap. The team has certainly lost faith in Ryan Lavarnway to handle the workload of being a catcher and he might be traded this offseason for a bullpen piece.
The other shoe to drop yesterday was Tim Hudson who signed with the Giants. Hudson got a two year deal worth $23 million. Hudson is getting paid less then Ryan Dempster which is shocking. Hudson is coming off injury and is returning to the Bay Area where he pitched in Oakland for the first six years of his career. The Sox were rumored to be interested in Hudson but I feel he ultimately wanted to go back to the West Coast. The Sox interest in Hudson did not seem to go too far as they have starting pitching depth but he would have allowed them to move one, maybe two arms for an area of need should Napoli leave as a free agent.
The Red Sox certainly will have an interesting offseason and hopefully moves start happening this week so the picture is painted a little more. Moves have been made so it is time for teams to react. The Sox do have two things on their side that could benefit them. Payroll flexibility and assets. With short term deals being the main idea the Sox may be able to extend themselves on a certain player if they choose too. Also with six maybe seven capable starters they could trade one. I believe the team should look at dealing Buchholz if they can get a good package for him or pool him with a young player to acquire a power bat. Peavy is a National League pitcher and might be best suited to be traded to a National League team maybe back to the Padres for Chase Headley? Who knows. John Lackey could be an attractive addition to any rotation as for the next two years he is only getting paid $16 million. I feel Lackey should stick as he was your best pitcher for most of last season and Jon Lester might walk after next year.
It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox view Brandon Workman this offseason. He looked great in a small sample as a starter but the team went out and got Jake Peavy so Workman was moved into the bullpen. His move to the bullpen was up and down as he looked spectacular at times and horrible at others. The postseason for Workman in the bullpen he was forced into roles that many fans didn’t think he was capable of but he stopped the bleeding in a few games and got many key outs on this World Series championship team. I want to see Workman as a starter but if the Red Sox cannot add enough bullpen pieces he will be forced to stay in the bullpen. No question he will have a spot on the Red Sox roster.
Ben Cherington will certainly have some decisions to make over the next few weeks. As we near Thanksgiving I certainly think of how the Red Sox got Curt Schilling over that holiday weekend in 2003. Hard to believe that was ten years ago. Maybe Cherington will have a move or two up his sleeve after some turkey and stuffing.