The Sox should make Qualifying Offers to all four major free agents (Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia, Napoli, Drew). Really, what is the risk? That they bring back a championship caliber team?
The Sox do not mind big but short deals, so I think you are right.
Ellsbury will very likely move on to greener (literally) pastures. Saltalamacchia might as well, as he is the free agent predicted to get the most unreasonable contract, and his agent might be benchmarking Miguel Montero’s deal (5 yrs / $60mill). Personally, he is the most expendable. His defense, while improved, still is not that good. His hitting was carried by a BABIP of .372, which in the wake of a .330 xBABIP means regression is more than likely. If Satly did not get a QO, I would not be disappointed. Just fishing for a draft pick.
I mentioned this before, and I'm not sure you responded to it: Salty's LD% rose considerably from 2012 to 2013. I think it came to about 21 or 22 more linedrives in 2013. He also walked more. How much of that factored into his big OBP rise as compared to the luck implied by the BAbip regression argument?
If Drew returns, Middlebrooks might be expendable. If Napoli returns, the status quo is reached. Both players COULD accept the QO, or both could potentially be signed to multiyear deals. The mere fact that they received a QO will probably limit their appeal with teams that are more cognizant of their respective draft budgets, making them easier to sign.
We may try to sign them to longer deals at less than the QO per year number ($14.1M?), and if they say no, then go with the 1 year QO and put the draft pick on the burner.
The word this offseason will be non-tender. I would not be surprised if the following players were non-tendered off the 40-man: Dan Butler, Steven Wright, Brandon Snyder, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, and Ryan Kalish. Some are obvious inclusions. Also, I think Bailey is a legitimate non-tender candidate because the 14IP he gives won’t be worth the money. Miller’s status probably depends on his health as well, so he is less likely. It was a foot injury, after all. At some point, they also might simply cut ties with Kalish. Butler is likely is the Sox get another starting catcher; why have 5 catchers on the 40-man? That’s too many. Syder is gone and we all know it. While they might keep Wright, he really gave them very little reason to keep him over some of the other borderline starting candidates like Chris Hernandez or Keith Couch. I hope they don’t keep Wright and lose Hernandez.
I think Miller comes back, but the others won't be missed.
The rotation is overcrowded, and one player is likely to be moved. I think the most likely candidates are Dempster and Peavy, for reasons related to either performance or injury history. Using one of a SP or Middlebrooks (some assumptions about his availability, obviously), the Sox might be able to get a new catcher from the Angels, who need both SP and 3B, and have a surplus of catching. Hank Conger for Middlebrooks makes sense for both teams. The Angels have not had a real 3B since Chone Figgins. Both Conger and Middlebrooks have similar service time, and are roughly the same age. And while Conger has never lived up to his offensive hype, he has become a solid defensive catcher. Fangraphs ranks him as the second-best pitch framer in MLB, behind Yasmani Grandal. Iannetta is not as good defensively and really not much of a hitter. He does have a tendency to work counts, take walks, and clog the basepaths. Which makes him a perfect fit. Iannetta is owed about $11mill over the next 2 years, so a potential swap for Peavy or Dempster makes some sense. That Iannetta grew up in RI as a Sox fan means nothing. Also meaning nothing is foolish fans who point out “So we dealt Iglesias for Iannetta?” Anyone making this comment needs to be kicked in the groin with such force that their offspring are born with footprints on their skulls.
Good suggestions, but I'm thinking Middy might be worth more.
Someone here has been crying for Trumbo, who I do not see as any better than Napoli, but what do you think of something like Middy & Dempster for Conger and Trumbo type deal? (I know you shy away from multiplayer deal suggestions.)
Bradley is a potential CF option, and really, a very likely one. The Sox probably need to add another OF, since Bradley is inexperienced and might not hit the ground running, and Victorino is not getting any younger. I would like to see the Sox get a certain OF from the Miami Marlins with surprising right-handed pop. And, no, not that guy. I am talking about Justin Ruggiano, who can play all three OF positions, can probably be had for 40-man overspill (Almanzar and Carpenter?), and is a better hitter than you realize. His HR/FB rate away from Miami is roughly 20% over the last 2 seasons. For comparison, Stanton’s is roughly 26% in that timeframe. In a role backing up Bradley and Victorino and even the LF tandem, if Ruggiano can get 240PA he should be able to hit about 14 HRs, more than Mike Carp produced in that same role. If he hits like that, the Sox might have to find a way to get him more involved. Defensively, he is average at best. But if he took over LF, the Sox might have the makings of a dangerous defensive unit. Miami has little need for Ruggiano, who is, at minimum, fourth on their OF depth chart if they decide the Yelich-Marinick-Stanton OF is the wave of the immediate future. And, even then, they still have to figure out how to get Marcell Ozuna involved.
Can you see us going after Choo? Beltran? DeJesus?
Speaking of Carp, I like him, but he might have no place in 2014, especially if they get an OF capable of backing up CF, Ruggiano or not. This might be a “sell high” opportunity, and maybe a chance to rationalize it by thinking the Sox are “doing the nice thing” by finding him a better opportunity. I suggest Carp to the 1B-free Milwaukee Brewers for A-ball pitcher Damien Magnifico, mostly because that might be the coolest name in minor league ball since Wonderful Terrific Mons III. He sounds like a Spanish cult legend, like Zorro. Say it out loud and you will agree– Damien Magnifico. Now try it with a Spanish accent. Awesome or what? Now, with that same accent, say out loud “My name [long pause] is Damien Magnifico.” That might be the coolest thing you have ever said. And even with all that, he is a U Oklahoma product with a 100mph fastball and some serious control issues, so there is some baseball logic behind this. Hate the Nuke Laloosh-esque control, but I figure it is easier to teach a guy to throw a strike than to teach him to throw 100mph. He’s worth a look as a project. Milwaukee probably wouldn’t agree to this trade, undoubtedly because they also really, really like the name of Damien Magnifico. They might like Carp, though, although he also potentially fits in Minnesota and Pittsburgh, both of whom have very deep farm systems, unlike Milwaukee. Or maybe Carp for Ruggiano?
With Nava, Papi and Middy able to play 1B, and almost anyone able to play LF, I can see Carp being dealt.
If Napoli walks and we don't replace him, then a Middy-Carp 1b combo might work out well.