Free agents the Sox should / could still consider. Not all are game changers.
I am still assuming the Sox work out something with Napoli at 1B, although there are reasons to assume this could go either way. Although if Napoli does not sign with Boston, I also assume the Sox will work out a deal for Mike Morse once Adam LaRoche returns to Washington (with either Bailey, Miller or Aceves heading to DC).
One other area (besides SP) still in need of an upgrade is LF, and another is backup 1B. As LF stands the Sox appear to be poised to platoon Gomes with either Nava or Kalish. I do not mind the Gomes signing if his role is limited to the one area in which he excels, namely crushing LHP. But the Sox could use an upgrade vs. RHP. Nava has been successful in this regard, but has a tendency to get all his hits at once and then go into prolonged slumps. Kalish has options left and is still in play, but is not necessarily on the opening day roster, and might be better served in Pawtucket as he was pressed into premature MLB service last year for reasons related to everyone else being hurt. There are other options still available.
Lance Berkman. I love Berkman as a hitter, where he is in an elite category with regards to plate discipline. If he does not swing, it was simply not a strike, and umpires need to learn to adjust their calls accordingly. And to combine that with his ability to hit with authority is a remarkable and much unappreciated skill. Defensively, his best days as an OF are long behind him, although the last time he played the OF regularly, his team did win a World Series title, so he clearly did not hold them back. He could also serve as an excellent backup 1B, something the Sox are reportedly searching for. Signing him would appear to relegate Jonny Gomes role to a lesser and potentially undetermined status, but this should not be a factor. The biggest obstacles with Berkman appear to include his demands, which at one point where basically what Ortiz got (2 years $26mill), as he appears content retiring if they are not met. The other concern is health, as he missed 130 games last year with an injury that, at one point, was diagnosed as career-ending. While certainly the best option talent-wise, I do consider him very unlikely. After all, if Napoli, who did not miss 130 games last year, is too big of a health risk for Boston, you have to think Berkman would be classified as legally dead.
Bobby Abreu. Abreu is another name whose best days are behind him offensively and defensively. However, he is probably the only other hitter in MLB whose plate discipline is in the same category as Berkman. If he does not swing, it was probably not a strike. Granted, as age has caught up and bat speed slowed down, he is not as patient as he once was (like Berkman). His fear of walls defensively could be an issue at Fenway, and the bigger concern is not the Monster, but the wall along the LF line, as Abreu would undoubtedly let far too many fair flies land that other, bolder outfielders would make plays on. Still, he is in play as the Sox have done some due diligence, and he is reportedly trying to add 1B to his defensive resume. Although it does waste his best defensive attribute, which is his powerful throwing arm.
Grady Sizemore. Sizemore possesses every skill you would want from a Major Leaguer except the ability to stay on the field. He is probably too aggressive defensively, sort of the anti-Abreu. This is a problem as his body can barely withstand colliding with anything, including air molecules. Sizemore might be the only major league capable of sustaining a season-ending injury while reading a newspaper. (“Aaaahh!! The color photos are burning MY EYES!!”) Still, when healthy, he would be a major asset as a LF platoon partner for Gomes. He also has never played 1B, assuming that is a requirement. He certainly could try to learn the position, but would probably injure himself in the process. (“Aaaahh!! The base!!! I dislocated both my ankles when I touched it!!”)
Jeff Baker. The Sox reportedly want a backup 1B capable of playing multiple positions, and this screams “Jeff Baker” loud enough to be heard at both poles simultaneously. However, Baker is another name on the list of right-handed hitters who crush LHP, but struggle vs. RHP. The Sox do not need more hitters with this profile. They need some with the reverse profile, such as Seth Smith, David Murphy or David DeJesus. Forget Baker and go get one of these guys to platoon with Gomes, Cherington!
Rick Ankiel. Defensively gifted outfielder who, like Sizemore, tends to be a little too aggressive, but at least possesses a level of durability not associated with museum exhibits. Offensively, he is better against RHP, but it is not exactly an area in which he excels. He is less than Nava with the bat, but he does have a well-deserved reputation for throwing the ball to the point where he is rarely challenged, even by runners on 3B on deep flyballs. If versatility is a need, Ankiel is not a good option as he has never played any position except OF and SP.
Dan Johnson. Johnson is another one of the most patient and disciplined hitters in all of baseball, but lacks the complimentary hitting skills found with Berkman and Abreu. He is an excellent PH option over his career, including twice damaging the post-season for Boston with this skill. (His PH home run off Papelbon in 2008 all but relegated Boston to the Wild Card, and his PH HR in the ninth inning of the last game in 2011 contributed heavily to finishing the collapse.) He has very little defensive versatility and is a longshot signing at best, although is absolutely worthy of a minor league deal. Soxprospects.com lists Mitch Maier as the starting 1B in Pawtucket. Maier has never played 1B, and lacks Johnson’s discipline and power, but can get on base pretty well due to hit slap-hitting style of fouling off close pitches and working a walk.
Luke Scott. Hey, he can hit RHP and play OF somewhat. His statements about Boston and their fans might be a little tough to overcome, along with his very outspoken right wing stances, and, really, his overall ability to be an idiot. But, hey, if Boston fans can embrace hardcore right-winger Curt Schilling, they might be OK with Scott if he shows he can hit. And he can hit. Historically Scott has been very successful vs. RHP (.820OPS last year, .935 for his career). He has not played more than 45 games in the outfield in a season since 2008, but has managed to see the outfield on multiple occasions every season. He used to play the position fairly well back when he was a regular, but that was a long time ago. He also has experience at 1B. As an overall player, he might be the best fit for the Sox on this list. However, he has not done a great job positioning himself for the fans, and would be tough to embrace. Still, if he is smart (he isn’t), this would be easy to overcome with one press conference. I predict they pass, although there are reasons he makes sense…