Free Agent Flea Market Opens Saturday–Part 1: Who Fits Sox Needs for Starter and Closer?


Bud’s MLB Free Agent Flea Market opens 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday, so let’s amble around the folding tables and eager agents to see if there are any bargains for the Red Sox.

But first, let’s identify the Sox needs:  Starting pitcher[s]; closer, SS, OF, 1b.

This post, Part One, will deal with FA starters and closers.  Part Two will cover FA shortstops; Part Three FA 1bs; Part Four FA OFs.

To begin the list, here are the Red Sox FAs:
Aaron Cook
James Loney
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Vicente Padilla
Scott Podsednik
Cody Ross

Current thinking on the street says the Sox will sign Ortiz and Ross.  This would fill the DH slot and make a FA OF from another team less of a priority.

But, first this stupid interruption from Bud Selig:

New free agent compensation rules:

The price of the qualifying offer is the average salary of the top 125 free agents from the previous winter by average annual value, which this year works out to $13.3 million. The deadline for teams to make an offer is five days following the World Series at 5 p.m., which is Friday at 5 p.m. Players given a qualifying offer have until seven days after the World Series (Sunday) at 5 p.m. to accept or decline. If a player rejects a qualifying offer, he can still sign back with his same team.

It’s another Bud Blunder; this Catch-22 agreement with the MLBPA says that a team must offer a player a contract that averages a minimum of $13.3 million per year.  David Pinto at Baseball Musings proves the point:

“Would any player, in this system, accept a qualifying offer? To make the offer in the first place, a team would need to calculate that a player was going to be worth about three WAR to make it worthwhile. A three WAR player, however, is a pretty good player, and should be able to get a long term deal. I suppose there are two WAR players that fit in really well with a team, and they might get and accept such an offer, but that’s paying a lot for intangibles.”


[You can assess the “possibles” for the Red Sox by referring to the Basic list from the Major League Baseball Players Association, which appears after this article.]

First trip around the tables list:

Braves:  Michael Bourn [OF] and Ben Sheets [SP]

Angels: Zack Greinke [SP]

Indians: Grady Sizemore [OF]

Reds: Jonathan Broxton [CL]

Brewers: Francisco Rodriguez  [CL]

Twins: Matt Capps [CL]

A’s:  Brandon McCarthy [SP]

Cards: Kyle Lohse [SP]

Rangers: Ryan Dempster [SP]

Nats: Edwin Jackson [SP]

Now, let’s look at the PITCHERS

Ben Sheets:

At age 34, Sheets is relatively healthy again and would not command a large contract.  If he can stay off the DL, he projects for 13 Ws and 13 Ls, according to Baseball Reference.  He would be a #4/5 starter and the Red Sox have plenty in stock.

DON’T BUY:  Old, DL risk, #4 starter and .500 record.

Zack Greinke:

The best and most expensive starter at the FA Flea Market.  His stats for the last two years suggest he is entering his prime years:

2011, 16-6, 4.0 WAR; 2012 15-5, 5.1 WAR

His Career stats:  91-78, 3.97 WAR

With the Brewers in 2011 , he finished 16-6 in 28 GS, 171.2 innings, 3.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 201 Ks.

For the Brewers/Angels in 2012, he went 15-5,  34 GS, 212.1 innings, 3.48 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 200 Ks.

After initially struggling with the Dodgers in the NL., he finished the season with a torrid streak;  In September,  3-0 in 42.2 innings with a 2.11 ERA, 38 Ks, .209 BAA in September.

Greinke could be the staff ace for 4 years for the Sox, but would want more than his last contract: 4 yrs./$38M (09-12); the good news: his agent it not Scott Boras.

BUY:  Signing Greinke to a 7-year deal for, say, $150 million, about $21.5 million per year [or a 5-years deal for $106.25 million] would solve the Sox #1 problem: their gaping Ace-hole.  The Sox have money to spend and this is the key position that requires the most attention and the largest outlay.

Brandon McCarthy

He could become a #1/2 starter in the Sox rotation.  Besides the famous head injury, which is now resolved with this return for the ALCS, he presents an injury risk and has been averaging just 80.1 Innings during his 4 yr. MLB career. The trend is positive; recently he has increased his inning total: 111 [2011] and 170.2 [2012].

The upside is that, the more time he goes to the mound, the better he looks:

YearInnings PitchedGames StartedfWARTeam
2012111 IP181.8Athletics
2011170.2 IP254.8Athletics
2010N/AN/AN/ARangers (minors)
200997.1 IP171.4Rangers
200822 IP50.2Rangers

[Source for chart:]

He received $4.275 million from Oakland for 2012 and would likely be seeking a 4-5 year deal for $25-$30 million; Fangraphs says two years at $10 per season.  Scott Boras is not his agent.

  • 2011: 9-9 in 25 starts and 170.2 innings with a 3.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 123 strikeouts
  • 2012: 8-6 in 18 starts and 111.0 innings with a 3.24 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 73 strikeouts

The downside would be his injury history:

Date OnDate OffTransactionDaysGamesSideBody PartInjury
5/19/117/3/1115-DL4541RightShoulderStress Fracture
7/29/1011/1/1060-DL9561RightShoulderRecovery From Stress Fracture
6/20/107/29/10Minors390RightShoulderStress Fracture
4/26/106/3/10Minors380RightShoulderStress Fracture
6/5/099/1/0960-DL8877RightShoulderStress Fracture
8/11/079/11/0715-DL3127RightShoulderStress Fracture
20121111.821 Chronicle A’s beat writer, Susan Slusser, sees McCarthy staying in Oakland:

“Another likely free-agent re-signing: starter Brandon McCarthy. He already had wanted to come back to Oakland before his emergency brain surgery, but that experience – and the response from the A’s management, players and fans – has only increased his desire to return. There’s something of a special bond there now, with McCarthy and his wife, Amanda, and the organization, and McCarthy is expected to be fully ready to pitch by spring training, barring difficulties with post-concussion syndrome.”

While A’s fans would love to keep him in the Oakland rotation, Billy Beane’s wont is to move players when they demand real money.  If Beane is an A’s believer, he might try to sign McCarthy and Stephen Drew, but, with young arms lined up from MLB to the low minors, and the team’s very survival in the inept hands of Bud Selig, he will more likely stick to his future franchise-building mode.


If the Sox are unable/unwilling to sign the more projectable Greinke, they may go after McCarthy for less money and hope he will grow into the staff ace.

Kyle Lohse:

16-3 with a miniscule 2.86 ERA.

He recently said he’d like to play for a winner, according to B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest  “The right-hander hasn’t been in contact with the Cardinals about a new deal and is expected to sign elsewhere.“There are certain places I’d like to go and certain places I probably wouldn’t,” he said.”


Presumably that would exclude the Cardinals, but include:  the Giants, Tigers, Reds, Orioles, and Yankees and others with better W-L records in 2012 than the Red Sox.  If the Dodgers still have their wallet open, but want a less expensive alternative to Greinke, Lohse would be a major upgrade over Joe Blanton.

At 33, Lohse has been in MLB for 12 years and his 2002-2003 over .500 years with the Twins were followed by mediocre seasons, until he rebounded with the Cards in 2008 [15-6]; he went below .500 in 2009 and 2010 and bounced back again in 2011 [14-8] and 2012 [16-30].  It is possible that he is about to have another W run, but, at 34, he may more likely run out his next contract as a below .500 starter.  He would rank #2/3 in a rotation and would not be the solid veteran [Greinke] or the younger pitcher with ace potential [McCarthy.]

He would be looking for a significant increase in salary from his 4 yrs./$41M (09-12) and his agent, Scott Boras, may be thinking $50-$60 million for 4 years, which would narrow the field to the Dodgers and Yankees.

DON’T BUY:  Old, expensive, and streaky.

Ryan Dempster:

The Rangers will be looking at other starters like Josh Johnson, David Price, Tim Lincecum and King Felix Hernandez, according to FANSIDED  Rangers’ Website Nolan Writin []

“Free agent starters Ryan Dempster and Edwin Jackson are targets for Toronto, Jeff Blair reports. Either right-hander would provide the Blue Jays with some certainty in the middle of a rotation that struggled mightily in 2012 due to injuries and poor performances.”


At age 35, this career .500 RHP will likely ask for at least 2 years at $13 million annually; last contract: 4 yrs./$52M (09-12).  He is not an up and coming ace, but more of a down and going #4/5 and a 10-10 record would be a waste of money.

Last July, Texas acquired Dempster, who took a pasting in the AL:  5.09 ERA and 1.435 WHIP in 12 starts. The Sox can hope that the Jays are foolish enough to sign him.

DON”T BUY:  Old and on the downside; .500 RHP; not the 1 or 2 rotation starter the Sox require.

Edwin Jackson:

FANSIDED’s Robbie Knopf says:

“A player who has always had tremendous potential but has never put it all together heads to free agency tempting teams with his upside but also worrying them with his risk. That sentence described Edwin Jackson perfectly last year…

In 2012 for the Nationals, Jackson showed himself to be right around an average pitcher again as he went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA, an 8.0 K/9, a 2.8 BB/9, and a 1.1 HR/9, 3.85 FIP, in 31 starts and 189.2 IP, possibly only harming his free agent value as he’s now a year older and still just average. And while Jackson fails to mix bats despite a mid-90′s fastball and a sharp slider…”

After the Dodgers gave up on his potential, Jackson pitched for the DevilRays/Nationals/Tigers/Rays/WhiteSox/ from 2003-2012.  He took a 1-year deal with the Rays to improve his FA prospects, but only managed a 10-11 record and he is projected for 10-10 by Baseball Reference in 2013.  He may be an innings eater, but not a winner and at a minimum of $13.3 million per year for 4 years, he would be expecting at least $53 million and change to rack up more Ls than Ws; his agent is…wait for it…Scott Boras.

DON’T BUY:  A mediocre innings eater, under .500, on the way down.  Also, “big multi-year deal” and “Scott Boras.” Sox fans can hope that the Jays sign Jackson and Dempster to assure the Toronto team finishes dead last.


If Cherington wants to buy some DL insurance for Bailey, he might go with Jonathan Broxton, or Joakim Soria, where the Royals have team option and buyout clauses in his contract:

201329Kansas City Royals*$8,000,000$8M Team Option, $750k Buyout
201430Kansas City Royals*$8,750,000$8.75M Team Option, $750k Buyout

Jonathan Broxton:

The fate of Brox The Ox is linked to Aroldis Chapman; if Chapman goes into the rotation, the Reds will likely keep Broxton, since the Ryan Madsen DL Disaster will see him headed to the FA pool for 2013.

If the Reds fail to make an offer [a contract that averages a minimum of $13.3 million per year.[ by midnight Saturday EST, the Ox goes into the FA pool and the Sox will need to compare his value to Joakim Soria; though Brox the Sox Ox had merchandising possibilities for Lucchino.

With the FA closer list in 2013 is not thrilling with names like:  Matt Capps, Brandon League, Jose Valverde and Fernando Rodney, the Sox may need to outbid the Yankees, if Riviera retires.

COST:  The Sox could sign Broxton to a 3-year deal for $4 million per; the first year would be guaranteed; the next two would be the team’s option.

BUY:  At age 28, Broxton made a comeback in 2012 with 27 SVs [5 Ls], 2.48 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, WAR 1.0 [KC], 0.6 [Reds].  He may not be a top tier closer, but he does represent a proven commodity to replace Bailey, if needed.

Soria and Broxton are both 28 years old; Broxton has 8 years in the majors, Soria 5.

Joakim Soria missed the entire 2012 season to undergo Tommy John surgery, is now a free agent; KC settled for a $750K buyout instead of an $8MM salary for 2013.

Soria established himself as a top tier reliever from 2007-2011; perhaps due to his injury, he struggled in 2011, but his career numbers are excellent — a 3.40 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 298 total appearances.

He had a 0.2 WAR in 2011 and a career WAR of 0.246.

The Sox would need to apply due diligence with medical exams and Farrell would want to see him throw a bullpen session.   The upside is a proven closer, who might come back better after the arm repair; the downside is he could be worse; stats suggest that of all pitchers who experience a Tommy John operation about 10% are better.

COST:  The Sox could sign Soria to a 4-year deal for $8 million per; the first year would be guaranteed, the next three would be the team’s option; they might build in performance goal bonuses.

BUY:  If he can show he is fully recovered and at least as good as he was before the TJ procedure, Soria could be a sleeper closer for a reasonable salary.

With about $250 million more to spend on the roster than last year, the Sox may need to choose between a #1 slot starter and a power OF, or a SS, or 1b from the FA market.  Imagine signing Greinke and Bourne, or Hamilton and McCarthy, or could they afford Greinke AND Hamilton?

Greinke will likely want a 7-year deal for, say, $150 million, about $21.5 million per year, but that would solve the Sox #1 problem: their gaping Ace-hole.  The Sox have money to spend and this is the key position that requires the most attention and the largest outlay.

Hamilton will likely sign at least a 5-year deal for $140-150 million, or about $30 million per year.

To sign BOTH Greinke and Hamilton, the Sox would need to lay out about $51.5 million per year for five years, then the same amount for two more years for Greinke.

The Sox got $275 million total in salary relief and luxury tax savings for 2012 and the future from the Dodger Dump and their 2013 budget commitments are $45.6 million and $34.4MM in 2014, $12.75MM in 2015, and $2.45MM in 2016.

It appears, using back of the envelope math, Sox could afford BOTH Greinke and Hamilton, if we add the current 2013 commitments [45.6 million] and the Greinke/Hamilton yearly salaries [51.5 million] we deduce a total budget of $97.1 million for 2013.

The Sox budget for 2012 was $173.2 million.  Unless we are way off with our math, it appears that the Sox would still be left with $76.1 million for lunch money, or another FA or two.

In order of preference, here are the FA starters and closers the Sox should consider:

"Greinke, McCarthyBroxton, Soria"

Tomorrow we will look at the shortstops at the FA Flea Market and add a surprise candidate.



  • Some players may be added, if contract options are not exercised.

Atlanta Braves
Jeff Baker
Miguel Bautista
Michael Bourn
Matt Diaz
Chad Durbin
Eric Hinske
Reed Johnson
Lyle Overbay
David Ross
Ben Sheets

Arizona Diamondbacks
Takashi Saito

Baltimore Orioles
Endy Chavez
Bill Hall
Nick Johnson
Nate McLouth
Joe Saunders
Jim Thome
Randy Wolf

Boston Red Sox
Aaron Cook
James Loney
Daisuke Matsuzaka
David Ortiz
Vicente Padilla
Scott Podsednik
Cody Ross

Chicago White Sox
Brian Bruney
Orlando Hudson
Francisco Liriano
Jose Lopez
A.J. Pierzynski
Dewayne Wise

Chicago Cubs
Shawn Camp

Cincinnati Reds
Jonathan Broxton
Miguel Cairo
Dioner Navarro
Scott Rolen

Cleveland Indians
Casey Kotchman
Grady Sizemore

Colorado Rockies
Jeff Francis
Jason Giambi
Jonathan Sanchez

Detroit Tigers
Gerald Laird
Anibal Sanchez
Jose Valverde
Delmon Young

Kansas City Royals
Jeremy Guthrie

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Zack Greinke
LaTroy Hawkins
Torii Hunter
Jason Isringhausen
Maicer Izturis

Los Angeles Dodgers
Bobby Abreu
Joe Blanton
Randy Choate
Adam Kennedy
Brandon League
Shane Victorino
Jamey Wright

Miami Marlins
Chad Gaudin
Austin Kearns
Carlos Lee
Juan Oviedo
Carlos Zambrano

Milwaukee Brewers
Shaun Marcum
Francisco Rodriguez
Alex Gonzalez

Minnesota Twins
Matt Capps
Carl Pavano

New York Mets
Tim Byrdak
Ronny Cedeno
Scott Hairston
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Kelly Shoppach
Chris Young

New York Yankees
Eric Chavez
Pedro Feliciano
Freddy Garcia
Raul Ibanez
Andruw Jones
Hiroki Kuroda
Derek Lowe
Russell Martin
Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera
Ichiro Suzuki
Nick Swisher

Oakland Athletics
Bartolo Colon
Jonny Gomes
Brandon Inge
Brandon McCarthy

Philadelphia Phillies
Juan Pierre
Brian Schneider

Pittsburgh Pirates
Kevin Correia
Jason Grilli
Chad Qualls

San Diego Padres
Jason Marquis

Seattle Mariners
Kevin Millwood
Miguel Olivo
Oliver Perez
George Sherrill

San Francisco Giants
Jeremy Affeldt
Melky Cabrera
Guillermo Mota
Xavier Nady
Angel Pagan
Brad Penny
Freddy Sanchez
Marco Scutaro
Ryan Theriot

St. Louis Cardinals
Lance Berkman
Brian Fuentes
Kyle Lohse

Tampa Bay Rays
Kyle Farnsworth
J.P. Howell
Jeff Keppinger
Carlos Pena
Joel Peralta
B.J. Upton

Texas Rangers
Mike Adams
Ryan Dempster
Josh Hamilton
Colby Lewis
Mark Lowe
Mike Napoli
Roy Oswalt
Koji Uehara

Toronto Blue Jays
Jason Frasor
Kelly Johnson
Brandon Lyon
Carlos Villanueva
Omar Vizquel

Washington Nationals
Mark DeRosa
Zach Duke
Mike Gonzalez
Edwin Jackson
Chien-Ming Wang