Hot Stove 2010: Sign Matt Holliday
November 3, 2009 2 Comments
You’re going about this all wrong. Would it be nice to get an elite slugger or a young ace this offseason? Of course! But at what price? Despite how it looked at times, the lineup is strong, and finished 3rd in runs scored, despite playing Nick Green and Jason Varitek as much as we did. And the rotation already has four strong pitchers if Daisuke Matsuzaka can come back. Trading Clay Buchholz now is the wrong move; he will give you 80-90% of what Hernandez will over the next four years at a bargain price. The Red Sox have talent and should continue to build from within. We certainly need to address that left field vacancy, as well as the lack of pop in the lineup; signing Matt Holliday should be enough on both counts, and we can fill in as needed around these guys. Here’s how to approach the off-season with measured restraint:
Step 1: Sign Matt Holliday to start in left field (+$18M)
As much as it will cost to sign Holliday and as painful as it will be to negotiate with Scott Boras, it will cost us far more to trade a boatload of talent for one guy, proven as he is. Holliday can hit, field (despite what this year’s playoffs might suggest) and is a seasoned vet with playoff experience. He’s about as perfect a fit as you can get. It’s just about the money. And Boras will drag it out, trying to squeeze us for every last penny. The thing is, unlike last year, we can not hang on until the last minute, only to lose our target to the Yankees or anyone else. We have to have a left fielder, and Boras knows that. The only leverage we have is to sign a lesser player and put that money elsewhere.
Step 2: Sign 1-2 free agent starting pitchers (+$8-12M)
I’m in favor of more reclamation projects like Rich Harden, Ben Sheets and Erik Bedard to fill the gaps. Kelvim Escobar and Justin Duchscherer may be out there as well, and warrant a look.
Step 3: Acquire a capable backup catcher
We don’t need much here, but someone who can be reliable behind the plate and be close to league average at the position would be nice. Free agents include names like Rod Barajas, Jose Molina and Yorvit Torrealba. There are also catchers likely to be available via trade, like Chris Snyder.
Step 4: Sign 2 free agent relief pitchers (+$5M)
As before, we bring back Hideki Okajima. I’m still holding out for Kiko Calero and a good LOOGY. Failing that, bringing Javier Lopez back up wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Step 5: Sign Adam Everett or Alex Gonzalez as Jed Lowrie insurance (+$4M)
Decline Gonzalez’s option, and sign one of these guys on a one-year deal. Let Lowrie compete and win the spot if he can; we fully expect to be looking for another shortstop next year anyway, right?
The primary advantage of this approach is that we retain our pitching depth and top prospects; they may still be developed or they may be used at the trade deadline to fill a need. The team would probably be similar offensively to this year’s team, and sport a very good, young rotation and a pretty strong bullpen. The defense would be much better all around. There’s decent balance, with a lot of money coming off of the books after 2010. That’s a chance to strike big, the same year that Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay, and Javier Vazquez are all slated to be free agents. Not many of them will make it there, but we’ll have a shot at some of those guys.
This lineup is deep, but lacks that true power hitter we’ve all been wanting (the old Manny/Papi). Truth is, there are only so many of those in the game, and you can’t just acquire one whenever you want. Theo knows we need pop, and he has it on his radar. But he is not going to overpay for a slugger who may hurt us elsewhere, like Adam Dunn. In the final analysis, whether we do it with home runs or singles and doubles, it doesn’t matter much as long as we score more runs than they do. And that’s something the Sox do very well.