2009 Offseason: Sox prepare to make a move
December 5, 2008 3 Comments
With the Winter meetings less than a week away, the Boston front office is humming with activity. Could there be a big move or two in store after this relatively quiet start to the offseason?
Okay, here’s the deal. The Red Sox would like Jason Varitek back on a short-term deal (one or two years) as a part-time player and instructor to their young catchers. If he does return, they will acquire someone like Jarrod Saltalamacchia to train as his replacement. I love Salty as a hitter, but I just don’t see him as an everyday catcher, not for next season. As a switch-hitter who flounders against lefties, he could face right-handed pitching in a platoon, as Varitek is much better against lefties anyway.
If Tek won’t agree to that, the Sox are prepared to part ways with the captain. They will acquire or sign a veteran stopgap catcher to bridge the gap, and they may still trade for a young guy like Salty or give Dusty Brown or George Kottaras a shot. What they will definitely NOT do is plug in an unproven commodity as the everyday starter.
Epstein has said that there are a lot of catchers who are available through trades, and I fully expect him to go for someone proven like Bengie Molina, someone who can be had cheaply for one or two years. I still like Chris Snyder, BTW.
This is all related, because in order to get a Saltalamacchia, Boston will have to deal Justin Masterson. Judging by their acquisition of Ramon Ramirez, and that Clay Buchholz is untouchable, Masterson seems to be the odd man out. Add to that the questions about Tim Wakefield’s health, and the Red Sox need to sign a free agent starter.
Epstein has said that they are interested in the guys who will “dominate for years to come”. That means CC Sabathia (who the Sox are scheduled to meet this weekend), Ben Sheets or A.J. Burnett (sorry Derek Lowe fans). Of the three, I’d advocate Burnett because as fragile as he is, Sheets is even more injury-prone and Sabathia is one of those Bartolo Colon types whose weight issues are not helpful to his long-term career. I’d still rather take on a veteran like Jason Jennings, Brad Penny or Randy Wolf on a short-term deal, however. That leaves room for Buchholz and Michael Bowden to break into the rotation in the next two years.
Even in this turbulent economy, when so many teams are falling all over themselves to cut payroll, the Red Sox are doing quite well and have the financial wherewithal to sign a big name. Some are predicting an exciting Winter Meetings next week.