Free Agent Flea Market–Open for Business: Sox Shop for First basemen

Before they step barefoot into the muddy puddle of the current 1b FA pool, the Sox need to realize that they have no 1 b prospects in their system and the best one is Houston’s Jonathan Singleton, ranked #25 MLB prospect.  So, the Sox need to consider signing a FA to a 1-3 year deal, trading for one, or decide now, that Xander Bogaerts will be their Franchise First baseman.

Xander is the middle of the order hitter for the Red Sox for the next decade, so why not assign him to a low injury-risk position that will still keep his head in the game, but allow him to focus his energy on his hitting.

Most pundits agree that Iglesias is a Gold Glove SS, who will hit like he is swinging with a Gold Glove trophy and the consensus is that Bogaerts will take over the position in 2014.  But Xander is still a growing young man and like many large frame SS prospects will fill out and outgrow the position.

Usually this means a shift to 3b or even OF, as in the case with Mets’ future star Wilmer Flores, but Middlebrooks has laid claim to the hot corner and with Brentz and Bradley on the way, OF is not a problem for the Sox; but, 1b is a huge hole in the infield.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald suggests that the Red Sox should trade Jacoby Ellsbury as they are unlikely to come to terms with him on a contract extension.  The Red Sox could find a partner in the Rangers as they may prefer to give Ellsbury a long-term commitment rather than Josh Hamilton and can afford to part with shortstop Elvis Andrus.

But, imagine a home-grown lineup on Opening Day 2014:

1b Bogaerts, 2b Pedroia, SS Marrero, 3b Middlebrooks,

LF Jacobs, CF Bradley, RF Brentz, C Lavarnway

Following this approach, the Sox should be shopping for a short term, maximum contract 3 years, solution at First base.

Unfortunately, the top rated FA 1b, Adam LaRoche , big offense and Gold Glove, will be able to get a longer deal [4-5 years] and expect more money that he is worth, say $100 million for 5 years.

| 2012 team: Nationals
2012 stats: .271/.343/.510, 33 HR, 100 RBI, 35 2B, 76 R WAR: 4

If they were expecting Bogaerts to make it in 2014 at 1b, the Sox could save money to put toward a staff Ace by keeping solid D Loney for one year.
2012 stats: .249/.293/.336, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 20 2B, 28 BB, 51 SO, 465 PA

The once powerful Carlos Pena has become a K-machine and his agent is Scott Boras.

| 2012 team: Rays
2012 stats: .197/.330./354, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 182 SO, 87 BB, 600 PA

[The rest of this motley pool is listed after this article if any of them look like the solution to you, ask your MD to reduce your SSRI dosage.]

The 1b puddle is so shallow that the Red Sox might be best served by signing a catcher or bringing back The Yook.

If, after having a down year in 2012, Napoli was looking for a 1 or 2-year contract to prove that 2012 was an aberration, then the Sox have a potential bridge to Bogaerts in 2014.

Napoli missed 54 games, plunging to.227-24-56, but the Sox Killer still had a “career week” with .389, 4 homers and 10 RBI in just five games against the Red Sox.

A year in the Red Sox batting order would allow Napoli to return to his career average stats:

.259, 22/85, 83 Rs, SLG .507

Also, consider how Napoli might serve as a tutor for Salty and Lavarnway.

If Napoli can swing a multi-year deal, the Sox would need to scrape the bottom of the puddle for other candidates, or accept that they are stuck with Only The Loney.

Or, they can convince themselves that, playing 1b, Yook will be less stressed on defense—where he won the Gold Glove in 2007– and find his hitting groove again.  Youkilis might welcome a homecoming to Fenway and his old team pals and Cherington seemed willing to consider it, when he appeared on WEEI.

Sox fans who prefer the Youk-Pedroia style of grind and hustle to the spoiled brat stylings of Beckett, would welcome a return to the days when we was spoken more than I in the clubhouse. Surely a one-year contract with incentive performance bonuses and a second club option year could be worked out for a reasonable price; say, a midpoint between Loney, $6.75 million and Kevin’s last Sox salary, $13 million.

In an Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Keith Law assessed the market for corner infielders. He lists Kevin Youkilis as the best value buy and James Loney as the worst.

Maybe $10 million with a max of $13 million, if all performance goals are met?

Without a 1b prospect on the horizon, the Sox need to convert Bogaerts to First, or sign a FA to a multi-year deal, or make a trade.

000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000Ty Wigginton | 2012 team: Phillies
2012 stats: .235/.314/.375, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 81 SO

Casey Kotchman | 2012 team: Indians
2012 stats: .229/.280/.333, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 49 SO, 26 BB

Jason Giambi | 2012 team: Rockies
2012 stats: .225/.372/.303, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 20 BB, 24 SO, 113 PA

Lyle Overbay | 2012 teams: Diamondbacks and Braves
2012 stats: .259/.331/.397, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 10 2B, 110 PA, 13 BB, 34 SO

Eric Hinske | 2012 team: Braves
2012 stats: .197/.272/.311, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 14 BB, 41 SO

Xavier Nady | 2012 teams: Nationals and Giants
2012 stats: .184/.253/.316, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 13 BB, 37 SO


Tags: Adam LaRoche Kevin Youkilis Mike Napoli Xander Bogaerts

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