I had hoped the beginning of this thread would start after the 2014 season, but sadly 2015 seems more on people's minds than what is going on with this year's team. 2014 has become an audition period for 2015's 25 man roster, so here it goes...
We all can expect some changes to be made this winter: trades, signings, and the rule 5 draft. Maybe some will be big splashes- maybe not. Let's start with our biggest need areas:
1) Starting Pitcher (1 or 2): Replacing Lester and Lackey will not be easy. Expecting our young starters to become 1 or 2 slot pitchers that quickly is unreasonable. It is probably a good idea to let Kelly have the 3 slot and Buchholz, de la Rosa, Webster, Ranaudo and maybe eventually Owens, Rodriguez, Escobar and Diaz battle for the 2 remaining slots.
2) Relief Pitcher (2-3): Uehara and Badenhop will be a FAs (see below), and we lost Miller. Mujica is a question mark, Breslow has a club option (see below). Tazawa looks like a nice set-up pitcher, but may not be closer material.
3) Big bat: Where does he play?
SS and or 3B: My guess is Bogey will pretty much be handed one of these jobs on opening day, unless he struggles the rest of this year and next ST. Holt is not a good left side IF'er, but his bat may force him into an IF position. Middy is a huge question mark on offense and is sub par on defense. He may end up being better suited for 1B or LF, if and when he gets his offense in gear. Cecchini is a poor defender and is unproven at the plate. Herrera is nothing more than a utility IF'er. Marrero looks to be an outstanding defender at SS, but his offense could be a problem. I suppose we could try to obtain a SS and 3Bman, but I doubt it.
OF: We currently have 8-10 players who can play an OF position (Cesedes, Craig, Victorino, Nava, JBJ, Betts, Holt, and possibly Bogey, Middy, Cecchini or a rookie like Hassan, Ramos, Brown or Brentz), so upgrading here would squeeze a few guys out of the picture, but I still think we have too much quantity and too little quality in our OF.
4) Catcher: we could use an experienced back-up catcher, but I suppose we could go with 2 from vazquez, Butler, Lava and Swihart.
I'm not going to list all the free agent options out there right now as some have team options, so I'll wait for the list to narrow. I'm not going to list possible trades right now, but I'm sure that will be discussed at length over the next 7 months.
I'll start by providing a framework of what we have right now, our budget, and our roster issues. (Some of this is from my 40 man roster thread.)
The 3 Free Agents: Staying or Departing?
Uehara: I'd offer close to $17-18M/2. It will be hard to replace him, except to bring him back.
Ross: Possible re-sign as a back-up/mentor.
Badenhop: I'd look to trade him this month on a waiver deal, if possible. Do not re-sign.
Kelly Johnson: Will not be returning, in my opinion.
For arguments sake, I will assume all these guys go to free agency, but that does not mean I do not want Uehara, but I will leave their slots on the roster open.
Rule 5 Eligible Players (from soxprospects.com)
Highlighted Green= Highly probable additions to 40 man roster
Highlighted Yellow= Borderline addition to 40 man roster due to skill level or not ML ready enough to worry about being taken by the rule 5 draft.
The following players will be eligible for the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to the 40-man roster by November 20, 2014:
Jonathan Aro, Matt Barnes, Wilfredo Boscan, Michael Brenly, Corey Brown, Miguel Celestino, David Chester, Sean Coyle, William Cuevas, Jacob Dahlstrand, Keury De La Cruz, Dayan Diaz, Luis Diaz, John Ely, Jason Garcia, Matt Gedman, Sergio Gomez, Bo Greenwell, Dreily Guerrero, Williams Jerez, Ellis Jimenez, Matty Johnson, Zach Kapstein, Jesus Loya, Mike McCarthy, Matty Ott, Mickey Pena, Aneudis Peralta, Oscar Perez, Kendrick Perkins, Carlos Pinales, Noe Ramirez, Henry Ramos, Carlos Rivero, Tim Roberson, Robby Scott, Travis Shaw, David Sopilka, Matt Spring, Blake Swihart, Andres Torres, Jose Valdez, Brayan Villarreal, Shannon Wilkerson, Madison Younginer
Probably 5 Rule 5 Eligible Players added and 5 borderline additions (see final board). Diaz may not need to be protected, since maybe no team is willing to keep him on their 25 man roster all season long. (I changed him to yellow below.)
Note: Deven Marrero does not need to be added until 2016, but may make the MLB club and need to be added at some point during the next season- probably not until after the season has begun.
So, this leaves the 40 man roster looking like this (Budget salary included):
Green Highlighted = Probable 40 Man
Yellow Highlighted = Borderline (possibly traded?)
The 7 Returning Players (barring trades) with Luxury Tax Salary Numbers
$16M Napoli(Could be traded to make room for Craig at 1B)
$13M Victorino (Could be traded to make room for Cespedes in RF)
The big 8 total: ~$85M (assuming no trades of these players)
$4M Breslow Club Option with $100K buyout
I'll assume he returns, but he could be traded.
3 Arbs with 2013 salary:
$1.3M Herrera (3 of 3)- could be traded
$1.3M Tazawa (2 of 3)
$557K Nava (1 of 3)- could be traded
I'll assume all return.
The total salary should be about $5M combined.
Total: ~$94M for 12 players, not counting pre-arb players.
The Non Arb Players Currently on the 40 Man Roster:
de la Rosa
If we do not sign any free agents (impossible), then the other 28 players needed to make the 40 man roster would be paid about $14M total.
Add: $10.1M for Player Benefits & $3.9M Dodger payment.
That leaves about $70M to spend on free agents above the minimum wage or other salary spent on the players they replace.
So here's the 2015 40 Man Roster as I see it right now with no additions (blank spaces are placed where I believe a FA or trade-acquired player will be):
36 are pretty much sure bets, unless traded, so the other 4 will come from the borderline players or from future trades.
SP (11-13): __________, __________, Buchholz, Kelly, de la Rosa, Webster, Workman, Ranaudo, Barnes, Owens, Escobar, L. Diaz, Wright
RP (6-9): ____________, Tazawa, Breslow, Mujica, Hembree, Britton, A Wilson, Layne, N Ramirez,
C (3-5): ___________, Vazquez, Swihart, Lavarnway, Butler
1B (2): Napoli, T Shaw
2B (2): Pedroia, Coyle
3B (3): Bogaerts (SS?), Middlebrooks (LF/1B?), Cecchini (LF?)
SS (1-2): __________, Herrera, Marrero (AAA)
LF (2-3): Craig, Nava, Hassan
CF (2-3): Bradley, Betts, H Ramos
RF (3-5): Cespedes, Victorino, Holt (IF/OF), Brentz, de la Cruz
DH (1): Ortiz
So, I have a minimum of 5 free agent signings and 31 players highlighted in green. Take away the $3.3M the free agents replace (assuming minimum wage players replaced) and we have about $73M to spend on the 5 free agents or upgrades via trades.
The remaining 4 slots would be filled from the pool of players highlighted in Yellow - probably Wright, Wilson, Butler, and Herrera. (Note: Marrero does not need to be added to keep in the system).
With about $73M to spend on free agents and still remain under the luxury tax limit, we could possibly sign 2-3 big names and 2-3 role players or just 2-3 big names and backfill the rest with players currently inside our system.
I'm not going to make any projections at this point. Too much is unsettled, but we have 2 good things going for us at this point:
1) About $73M to spend on free agents is enough, if spent wisely, to fill all our biggest needs.
2) Our large stockpile of prospects allows us the flexibility to make a blockbuster trade or two that few teams have. We also have a lot of ML experienced depth at some positions that can be dealt as long as the player from whatever position we choose to upgrade.
As I have mentioned several times over the last year or so, I believe our team is too heavy on quantity heavy and too light on quality, but that can be discussed later.
I'm excited about this upcoming winter and our extended future. As always, your thought and suggestions (or corrections) are welcome. Let's try to keep it "realistic". Let's try not to get too personal or uncivil with other posters.