Hot Stove 2010: Options to fill LF

The offseason is all about choices, especially for a big market team like the Red Sox. What choices give you the best chance of winning, while preserving value and organizational depth? Filling a hole by getting the best available player now may not be the best move, because it could leave you hamstrung somewhere else. As a team with a number of needs this offseason, let’s take a look at some of the options to fill left-field and compare them.

With Jason Bay a free agent, the Sox have a gaping hole in left and in their lineup. The biggest names out there are Bay and Matt Holliday, but there are a number of corner OF types who are available on the free agent market or via trade. Between Holliday and Bay, the former seems like the clear choice, as he plays better defense and the Sox stand to gain a sandwich pick by signing him over Bay. But the Yankees could also be in the mix, and dealing with Scott Boras is never easy, as we learned from Teixeira-gate last year.

Free agents
Matt Holliday (.303/.387/.505, .398 wOBA, +38.5 wRAA), average to plus defense, 6/100M + 1st round pick
Jason Bay (.263/.366/.490, .383 wOBA, +29.0 wRAA), poor defense, 5/75M
Johnny Damon (.280/.359/.456, .369 wOBA, +20.5 wRAA), weak defense, 2/20M?
Xavier Nady (.290/.350/.482, .369 wOBA, +18.4 wRAA), average defense, 2/18M?
Jermaine Dye (.265/.341/.475, .360 wOBA, +15.1 wRAA), poor defense, 1/5M
Marlon Byrd (.282/.344/.458., .356 wOBA, +11.9 wRAA), plus defense, 1/6M?

Trade bait
Adam Dunn (.258/.390/.507, .398 wOBA, +38.4 wRAA), terrible defense, 1/12M
Magglio Ordonez (.306/.374/.456, .370 wOBA, +19.3 wRAA), poor defense, 1/18M w/ vesting option
Josh Willingham (.260/.365/.474, .374 wOBA, +18.3 wRAA), weak defense, $5-6M arb3
Milton Bradley (.275/.389/.449, .377 wOBA, +18.1 wRAA), average defense, 2/21M
David DeJesus (.281/.352/.427, .346 wOBA, +8.0 wRAA), excellent defense, 1/4.7M w/ option

I’m not particularly a fan of this idea because it would stunt his development, but you could also sign a CF and move Jacoby Ellsbury to left field:

Free agents
Mike Cameron (.246/.336/.443, .350 wOBA, +9.6 wRAA), excellent defense, 1/8M?
Coco Crisp (.253/.331/.385, .330 wOBA, -0.4 wRAA), excellent defense, 1/5M?

Trade bait
Curtis Granderson (.264/.340/.467, .361 wOBA, +17.6 wRAA), average defense, 3/24M w/ option
Juan Pierre (.296/.348/.376, .334 wOBA, +1.1 wRAA), average defense, 2/19M
Vernon Wells (.266/.320/.421, .333 wOBA, +0.9 wRAA), weak defense, 5/99M

[All numbers are my personal projections.]

Given the options, I like Holliday as Plan A, but failing that, I’d advocate trading for Willingham or Bradley as lower-cost ways of plugging the hole well until next year. Damon or Nady could make for a good third option, though Damon’s left-handed. Anything else means too much of a dropoff offensively or putting a REAL butcher in left field. Reuniting Willingham with Jeremy Hermida might be interesting; they were teammates with the Marlins a couple of years ago and could platoon.

As for the centerfield option, Cameron looks like the only possibility there and would make a good plan C. It’s been pointed out that Granderson is really a platoon guy, as he’s TERRIBLE against lefties. There’s always a chance that Wells gets it back together, but I don’t take that chance if I value my job as a GM.


2 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: Options to fill LF

  1. Jeff Carini says:

    Nady’s actually righthanded and might make a good platoon option with Hermida. He could also move to first base on days Lowell needs a day off and they want to keep Martinez behind the plate. He can play right as well when Drew needs to sit or is on the DL. I’d go with Holliday if they can get a deal done without Boras dragging it out all winter. I like the fact that he’s a year younger than Bay and I think that sandwich pick can have a lot of value. The Sox have had a lot of success in recent years with their compensatory picks. After Holliday and Bay, I think Willingham might be a good choice if they don’t have to give up a ton to get him. Marlon Byrd is intriguing as well as he can play all 3 outfield positions.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    You’re right (and so is Nady), thanks for catching that mistake, Jeff – now corrected in the article.

    I think Byrd would make a nice pickup if we weren’t trying to replace Bay’s production. Maybe it would be okay with a full season of Martinez instead of Varitek plus a better shortstop rather than Nick Green/Jed “Get the stretcher” Lowrie. Byrd would be a good 3.5 outfielder who could play all over and get in a decent number of PAs.

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