It is a much shorter offseason this year for the Red Sox after they have claimed the 2013 World Series title, which means that the Sox will have start really prioritizing their roster before Spring Training.
We are in mid-December and Spring Training is only two months away. It’s looking like a white Christmas already here in Boston and there are still questions left unanswered on the Red Sox’ current roster. There are things that I would like to see get done before Christmas, but I like the progress the Red Sox have made so far.
The Red Sox have been able to address their biggest concerns early even before the Winter Meetings. Mike Napoli remains in Boston for another two year. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has left for Miami, but the Sox immediately found a replacement behind home plate and signed A.J. Pierzynski. The Sox added depth to their already strong bullpen by signing former Cardinals reliever Edward Mujica, which will take some of the load off of Koji Uehara.
Honestly, I think the Red Sox were smart not to resign Jacoby Ellsbury and for the fact that he signed a ridiculous new contract with the Yankees. Jackie Bradley Jr. will have large shoes to fill at center field as Ellsbury’s replacement, but he is so far the only option the Red Sox have at center field. It’s unfortunate that the Red Sox weren’t able to come to an agreement with Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson or even try to trade for Matt Kemp. If Bradley gets off to a slow start or gets injured, the Red Sox will have to immediately find a plan B, which they don’t currently have one. I think Bradley will be a stud in the league for years to come and this will be his year to really make an impact for the defending world champions.
I’ve mentioned this before and I will mention it again, the Red Sox need to pick their shortstop and declare it. I still think that Stephen Drew is probably the best available shortstop to this point, but just for short-term while Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt and Will Middlebrooks fine tune their abilities just a little bit.
I’m actually thankful that Drew declined his $14.1 million qualifying offer because he is nowhere near worth that much money for one season. If the Sox are unable to resign Drew, they will not have any experience on the left side of the infield. There are a lot of good right-handed hitters in the American League in Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria and Adam Jones that will cause a problem for the young and inexperienced Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts.
The Red Sox granted Jon Lester his $13 million option for the 2014 season, but it will be deja vu again next offseason unless they give him a full blown extension as soon as possible. If Lester pitches another great season again like he did this past year, he will be a high target on the open market. I personally would like to see Lester get an extension just so that will solve next offseasons dilemma.
What a year for, arguably, Boston’s biggest figure in David Ortiz and we all hope he puts up another great season next year. There have been discussions between David Ortiz and the Red Sox about giving him a one year extension after the 2014 season is over. As much as Ortiz deserves a lifetime contract with the Red Sox and it’s important to keep him happy, this shouldn’t be a priority right now until he can put up similar numbers next season and stay off the disabled list. Ortiz is someone that I will be talking to future generations about and he is now and always the heart and soul of the Red Sox.
This is where it will be challenging, determining the leadoff hitter. This probably will not get resolved until March, but if we glance at what the Red Sox roster currently looks like, who should leadoff? Shane Victorino? Daniel Nava? Dustin Pedroia? That position is currently a free-for-all.
It’s getting closer to Christmas and the Red Sox should definitely be on Santa’s nice list this year. The truck leaves for Ft. Myers in 54 days, so the season is coming quicker than expected.