It’s becoming clearer by the day that this offseason will be a monumental one full of change for the Red Sox. Even before the end of the World Series, they’ve hired a new manager– sending their starting shortstop to Toronto in the process, a new bench coach, and even DFA’d former top prospect Che-Hsuan Lin when making the waiver claim of minor league reliever Sandy Rosario. Considering all that change that’s already occurred, there should be plenty more this offseason. With a depleted pitching staff and potential holes at catcher, first base, shortstop, and left field, there should be a flurry of phone calls between GM Ben Cherington and opposing GM’s in the upcoming months.
One particular hole I’ll be discussing today is the hole in left field, the first since before the signing of Manny Ramirez in 2001. There’s a list of potential options featuring big names like Josh Hamilton and Ryan Ludwick, as well as more platoon-leaning options like Scott Hairston, Johnny Gomes, and even Melky Cabrera. However, there’s one guy that fits pleasantly between the two ends of the spectrum, and that guy is Delmon Young of the American League Champion Detroit Tigers.
Young had a decent regular season, batting .267/.296/.411 while pounding 18 home runs and driving in 74 runners– serviceable numbers for a starting left fielder and certainly better than anyone the Red Sox had in 2012, but he has really turned it on this postseason. He deservingly won the ALCS MVP after batting .353 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs in the four game sweep of the Yankees.
Coming from a team which has missed the playoffs the past three seasons, a reliable postseason performer should be a good omen for the Red Sox. While his ALCS performance will probably raise his price a little bit, the Red Sox should easily be able to afford it after the salary clearing job this August. Plus, there’s the added benefit that Young will only be 27 years old on Opening Day of 2013, and should fully enter his prime in the next few seasons. A deal worth around $8 million annually over the next 3-4 years would be a realistic and beneficial contract for both sides.
Although the Red Sox probably won’t contend seriously next year, Young would be a good investment for not only next year but years to come. As a former first overall draft pick who debuted in the majors at the age of 20, Young should provide a calming and experienced air to the younger players whom we’ll see plenty of in coming years. Also, as a player entering his prime and moving to Fenway Park, it’s entirely possible that Young could push the 25-home run marker. Young would be a good clubhouse presence, a solid hitter (and excellent in October), and fill a needed hole if the Red Sox were to sign him this offseason.