Spring training starts on Feb. 12 for the Red Sox, a mere 39 days from today. The Sox appear to have most of their roster in place, but here is a primer on what needs to get done and what could be done:
Finish the Mike Napoli deal: The first baseman agreed to terms on a three-year deal a month ago but has not been officially signed because of an issue with his physical that will apparently require an adjustment in the original terms.
Both sides have kept quiet about the process. But a major league source today reiterated that something should get done. If not, the Sox need a first baseman because Mauro Gomez isn’t going to cut it.
Sign ’em up: The Red Sox have nine arbitration-eligible players (Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Craig Breslow, Jacoby Ellsbury, Joel Hanrahan, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, Jarrod Saltalamacchia) who were offered contracts. These players are signed for 2013, it’s just a matter of agreeing to terms.
In most of the cases, it’s a standard outcome. The player gets a one-year deal at a rate determined by his accomplishments and comparisons to other players. There’s not an exact formula, but it’s pretty close.
If no deal is reached, the sides would go to an arbitration hearing in February. That seems pretty unlikely with any of these players. The sides exchange figures on Jan. 18 and deals usually are made around that time.
They key thing to remember is that these are signed players. It’s just a matter of figuring out the terms.
Find some bargains: Would you sign Carl Pavano, Shaun Marcum or Jair Jurrjens to compete for a spot in the rotation? How about Alex Gonzalez as a backup shortstop? There are still some free agents out there who could potentially help the team.
The Sox aren’t likely to drop the dollars on Kyle Lohse, Michael Bourn or Adam LaRoche (or give up a draft pick), but they could find a bargain in the coming weeks. Cody Ross signed on Jan. 26 last season. That worked out pretty well.
Round up the usual suspects: We’re getting close to the time of the year when veteran players look for places to land. The Red Sox, for instance, will be scouting RHP Javy Vazquez in Puerto Rico tonight along with other teams. Vazquez did not play last season but has looked good this winter.
The Sox usually bring 60 players to spring training — the 40-man roster, some high-end prospects and assorted vagabonds. Vazquez may have done enough this winter to merit a major league deal. But there are always players out there just looking for a chance in the form of a minor league contract. The Sox will probably throw out a few life preservers.
Make a trade: The Red Sox could go to camp as presently assembled and figure it out. But they could deal from some areas of strength to improve the major league roster or their prospect inventory.
Players like Aceves, Morales, Saltalamacchia, Gomez, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, Clayton Mortensen, and Alex Wilson aren’t spare parts. But they are fungible players to a degree. Could Salty, Iglesias and Morales bring back a solid player? You can be sure Ben Cherington is asking around.
The Sox don’t need to make a trade. But they certainly have the pieces to.