We have reached the stage of free agency where the pool consists of Vlad Guerrero and a bunch of guys who stink.
OK, that’s not entirely fair. It’s a bunch of guys who stink and some who were injured.
Russell Branyan could possible help a team, Kevin Millwood, too. Justin Duchscherer will probably get a better offer than what the Red Sox can make, but he’d be a nice No. 6 starter to have around. Joe Beimel, a lefty reliever, will get a chance with somebody, maybe even the Sox if he’s willing to take a minor-league deal.
For Red Sox fans, there is one other player in particular to keep an eye on: Felipe Lopez.
The infielder had a glorious four-game run with the Sox at the end of the season. The Sox signed Lopez knowing he would be a Type B free agent. The plan was to sign him, offer him arbitration, have him decline, then get a supplemental first round draft with he signed with another team.
The first three segments all worked. Lopez was signed, offered arbitration and declined it. Now comes the tough part.
Lopez is 30, versatile defensively and has a career line of .266/.336/.395. He did not play well for the Cardinals last season and was reportedly disruptive. But he had a nice season in 2009, posting a .310 /.383 /.427 line for the Diamondbacks and Brewers.
A few major league sources said they hadn’t heard much about Lopez being signed. But one scout said he believed some team would take a shot, saying Lopez was at worst an adequate utility infielder.
As a Type B free agent, Lopez would not cost a team a pick. But for the Red Sox to get that supplemental first-round pick, Lopez would have to sign a major-league deal.
At the moment, the Red Sox have six of the first 111 picks. Turning four days of Felipe Lopez into another one would be a nice trick. Meanwhile, the Rays have 13 of the first 119 picks after gathering up compensation for Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate, Brad Hawpe and Chad Qualls.
A few random Sox notes: Keith Law of ESPN ranks the Boston farm system 11th. The Rays (2nd), Jays (4th) and Yankees (9th) are up there, too. How tough is the AL East? … You remember B.K. Kim, of course. He has signed with a team in Japan, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He lasted pitched in the majors in 2007 and somehow is only 32. … Good luck to Rocco Baldelli, who has decided to retire from playing and will join the Tampa Bay front office. The Rhode Island native, whose career was derailed by a rare illness, is one of the better people in the game. Rocco played for the Sox in 2009. … Finally, congrats to Josh Beckett on his marriage over the weekend.