10-13-2011: Some random thoughts on free agents

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to leave all this clubhouse talk behind and start thinking about next year. We’ve got a number of decisions to make on our own guys, and I’ve heard lots of names bandied about, which I’d like to weigh in on and discuss.

David Ortiz, DH (age 36 next year)

The guy has been great for us, and he had a wonderful bounceback year. I expect he’ll be wanting a three- or even four-year deal, but I would like to see the Sox spend no more than 2/20 on him if he stays. Is anyone convinced that he will definitely duplicate his numbers next year? How about in two years? Three? Given his age and his recent comments, maybe we SHOULD let him go, take our draft picks and let Kevin Youkilis DH. We can sign a stopgap third sacker and let him compete with Jed Lowrie/Mike Aviles for the job until Will Middlebrooks is ready.

C.J. Wilson, SP (age 31 next year)

We have problems in the rotation, and Wilson is the top guy out there. I like Wilson as a pitcher, but I don’t like the fact that he is likely to seek a five-year contract in the $90-100M range after his stellar 2011. Remember that this is how we got into this rotation mess to begin with. First of all, I think Texas is likely to re-sign him, and secondly, we have sunk too much money into over-30 pitchers in our rotation already. I don’t think we should pursue him unless we trade John Lackey or Josh Beckett, and regardless, replacing Beckett with Wilson doesn’t even seem like an upgrade to me. We do need to sign a starter or two, but we could definitely use this money elsewhere. Depending on what this market looks like, maybe someone like Mark Buehrle or Jon Garland might make more sense. We need innings at a lower cost.

Michael Cuddyer, RF (age 33 next year)

With J.D. Drew leaving/retiring, we will need to fill his position. Cuddyer can hit, but he is a woeful defensive outfielder, and putting him in the expansive right field at Fenway would be a mistake. He’s likely to demand a multi-year deal, and at his age, I’d pass. I’m willing to see some combination of Conor Jackson, Josh Reddick, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish in right field this year. They should be able to improve on our pitiful production from that position this year, which was still good enough for us to have a top offense and win 90 games.

Ramon Hernandez, C (age 36 next year)

Hernandez is well past the point of being an offensive force or even an everyday catcher, but there are indications that he is a very good defensive catcher and as a right-handed bat, he would make a nice complement to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. If we could get him on a one-year deal, I think he would make for a nice, short-term upgrade over Jason Varitek. But what about Ryan Lavarnway, you say? His bat is ready, but the defense has gaps. If he is going to develop into an everyday catcher, it should happen at Pawtucket. If not, his value will be as a rotating 1B/C/DH guy and right-handed hitter off the bench. Whichever it is, we will need another catcher to start the season at least.


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