One week ago Red Sox fans sat at the edge of their seats and saw their team capture the teams third World Series in the past nine years. An incredible feat considering the difficult season the Red Sox had last season, which lost many fans interest. The goal of last off-season was to get a team assembled that will no only win on the field but win in the locker room.
As the victory tour continues with David Ortiz going on Letterman and Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino going on Conan, Red Sox fans begin to wonder what this off-season will bring and judging from talk radio everyone seems to have an opinion. Keep Ellsbury, ditch Drew, play Bogaerts everyday are some of the things we have heard so far which everyone is entitled to think. The goal this off-season I think should be the same as last year. Don’t overspend on years. Last year the longest contract signed was for 3 years to Shane Victorino. Ben Cherington has said already that as much as he liked this years team, expecting the same cast of characters to win the World Series again next year is not something he has in mind.
Free agents Mike Napoli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will all cash in this off-season and I do not expect the Red Sox to retain all four. If I had to choose one to keep I would keep Napoli, as right handed power to protect David Ortiz will be hard to find and Napoli is a winner. You brought him in last off-season for that reason so keep him this off-season. Jacoby Ellsbury will certainly get $100 million on the open market and the Red Sox should not overpay, with Jackie Bradley Jr. almost fully developed. As much as Ellsbury means to this Red Sox team I believe Cherington will not pull the trigger on a large contract. If he can be retained for 5 years at $100 million I would do it, but he will certainly want Carl Crawford type money and the Sox should not go down that road again.
Last off-season Sox fans may not have been excited with the signings of the likes of Gomes and Victorino and I expect this off-season will be the same. Gomes and Victorino were critical parts to this years team and those moves turned out right for Cherington. It is rare to hit on all the free agents you sign but last year Ben Cherington did and to expect the same this off-season are expectations that are too high. He’s been with the Red Sox longer than the owners and the team is now his to complete. Finding a catcher if Saltalmacchia leaves I feel will be the most crucial move as David Ross cannot be expected to be an everyday catcher.
Ellsbury can be replaced with Bradley and a free agent on the short term if Bradley struggles. If Drew leaves Bogaerts can play shortstop and Middlebrooks will start at third. I believe Napoli will return for a similar contract he originally signed last off-season before the Sox medical staff “found” a hip issue. Of course the Sox could be active on the trade market as well. Buchholz and Middlebrooks I feel could be packaged together for a nice return. This off-season will definitely be compelling for the Red Sox and I endorse Ben Cherington and the moves he will make.