Internal And External First Base Options For The Red Sox
Despite opening up tons of payroll space and bringing the Red Sox quite a return of prospects, the Gonzalez trade also certainly opened up some holes in the Red Sox roster– particularly at first base. The Red Sox haven’t had much of a problem at first base over the past years what with Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and Kevin Millar but coming into 2013, they might. They have no real impact talent on the roster with James Loney (.254/.300/.341) departing after next year and there’s no elite talent on the free agent market, but I think the Red Sox could certainly get themselves a good first baseman for the future.
The most obvious name coming to mind is Mauro Gomez– who’s spent much of the season in Triple-A Pawtucket but has handled himself well in the majors, posting a .292/.358/.438 slash line with 1 home run and 6 RBIs. However, down in Pawtucket, Gomez has flat out raked– putting up Ortiz-like numbers at .310/.371/.589 with 24 home runs and 74 RBIs. Gomez is a bit past prospect status at 27 years old, but probably has the potential to be a solid hitter (his career minor league averages are .281/.334/.484 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs). He could probably add a bit more power to those totals, but that would be about what you’re getting out of Gomez, a solid option no doubt, and one that is cost controlled for the next several years.
Another option that the Red Sox have opened up with the big trade is Jerry Sands. Sands won’t play in the Red Sox organization this year as he was included in the deal as a “player to be named later.” Sands has done nothing but hit this season at Triple-A Albuquerque, bashing for a .300/.378/.532 line along with 25 home runs and 103 RBIs. However, he’s struggled at the major league level, hitting just .174/.208/.261 in 9 games and 23 at bats with the Dodgers this year. A change of scenery may help Sands figure things out, but the 24 year old remains raw.
On the chance that neither of those options pan out, the Red Sox could always sign a cheap free agent to fill in next year. Of the available free agents, the best are certainly Lance Berkman, Adam LaRoche, and Mike Napoli. However, all of those would demand a fairly high contract– the kind that got the Red Sox into the mess they just got out of. The best free agent that could be had on a cheap deal would probably be James Loney. Loney, just acquired two days ago, has a career .284/.341/.422 slash line but is down to .254/.300/.341 with 4 home runs and 35 RBIs in 2012. I think the Red Sox would be best off conducting a position battle next spring between Sands and Gomez.