Free Agent Flea Market–Open for Business: Sox Shop for OFs
Bud’s MLB Free Agent Flea Market opened after midnight last night and the crowd is growing fast; so let’s amble around the folding tables and eager agents to see if there are any OF bargains for the Red Sox.
[FA Flea Market Series: Part 1: Starters and Closers; Part 2: Shortstops, Part 3: OFs; Part 4: First basemen.]
To begin the list, here are the Red Sox FAs:
Scott Podsednik [not likely to resign with Sox.]
Besides the FA status of Cody Ross, other looming factor is the status of Ellsbury; will they trade him in his option year, 2013, or wait until later? Will the Sox need to fill TWO OF holes, if Ross isn’t signed and Ellsbury is traded?
Ross is said to be ready to test his value on the FA market and, although his swing is custom made for Fenway’s Green Monster, another home field may not be as kind to Cody, who did not even make ESPN’s Keith Law’s top 50 free agents’ list.
Fenway: .298, .921 OPS, 74 hits, 25 doubles, 1 triple. 13 homers, 49 RBI, and 59 strikeouts.
AWAY: .232, .684 OPS, 53 hits, 9 double, 0 triples, 9 homers, 32 RBI, and 70 strikeouts.
Then there is the readiness of Franchise Future CF Jackie Bradley, who is just 22 and 23 year-old Bryce Brentz, who will more likely be a corner OF. Bradley is projected to arrive in 2014, but Brentz may be ready to join the Red Sox this coming season.
ETA: 2013, Rank: 4 Sox Prospect
Age: 23, R/R, Drafted: 2010, 1st (36) – BOS
Brentz shook off a rough summer debut in 2010 to have a very successful first full season in 2011, earning a midseason promotion and hitting 30 homers along the way. He moved up again for the 2012 season, to Double-A Portland, where he continued to hit well and earned one more bump up near the end of the season to Triple-A.. Brentz has a strong, compact swing that allows him to crush the ball to all fields, something that will happen more consistently if he continues to improve his plate discipline. A former pitcher, he has the kind of plus arm that goes nicely with a power bat in right field. He should provide plenty of homers and RBIs in Fenway Park in the near future.” [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/#list=bos]
Thus, the OF depth chart today would look like this: Ellsbury, Nava, Sweeney, Kalish with the possible additions of Ross and Brentz.
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.
NOTE: The MLBPA contract says that a team must offer a player a contract that averages a minimum of $13.3 million per year. [You can assess the “possibles”—listed alphabetically–for the Red Sox by going here: http://www.spotrac.com/free-agents/mlb/.]
What are the FA options for the Red Sox?
The Red Sox have been pegged by Vegas (per Bovada.lv) as 9:1 underdogs in the race for Josh Hamilton, with the San Francisco Giants leading the way at 3:1.
San Francisco Giants 3/1
Atlanta Braves 5/1
Texas Rangers 5/1
Philadelphia Phillies 7/1
New York Yankees 9/1
Chicago Cubs 9/1
Boston Red Sox 9/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 1 0/1
Toronto Blue Jays 10/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 15/1
While it MAY make sense to sign Josh Hamilton to a 5-year deal, especially of the Sox are planning to trade Ellsbury, the FA OF ranked list is abysmal and over-priced.
But Josh just announced he is seeking: seven years, $175 million; that about finishes the Sox.
ESPN’s Keith Law says he would be “loath to go beyond three years” for Josh Hamilton because of his lack of durability. He notes that the outfielder’s “approach has started to deteriorate the past two years.”
Read more at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/11/keith-laws-top-50-free-agents.html#AivcZYhD2vEBz8Ai.99
.274/.348/.391, 9 HR, 57 RBI
“I just don’t see a lot of historical precedent for guys succeeding in their thirties with a high K/low power offensive skillset. Those things don’t go together, so if Bourn is going to remain an offensive threat, he’s going to be something of a trailblazer, which isn’t really what you’re looking for when giving out five year deals.”
Fangraphs Dave Cameron [http://network.yardbarker.com/author/article_external/12115489?headline=the_25_best_and_five_worst_free_agent_values&linksrc=mb_main_col_3&mailing_id=1960&sport_name=mlb]
Plus, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury has heard is seeking a contract of around $100 million.
Compared to Hamilton, Michael wasn’t Bourne yesterday, so there is no Bourne supremacy.
.288/.338/.440, 8 HR, 56 RBI
Recall Pagan’s time with the Mets [BA .262] was unimpressive, but he had a career year in 2012, surrounded by serious talent. Chris Haft of MLB.com expects him to earn at least $10 million per year in a multi-year deal.
That would give him Curtis Granderson money:
|21||Curtis Granderson||New York Yankees||$ 10,000,000|
|22||Shane Victorino||Philadelphia Phillies||$ 9,500,000|
|23||Bobby Abreu||Los Angeles Angels||$ 9,000,000|
|23||Yoenis Cespedes||Oakland Athletics||$ 9,000,000|
|25||Jacoby Ellsbury||Boston Red Sox||$ 8,050,000|
|26||Jason Kubel||Arizona Diamondbacks||$ 7,500,000|
|27||Chris B. Young||Arizona Diamondbacks||$ 7,200,000|
|28||Ryan Braun||Milwaukee Brewers||$ 7,111,111|
Pagan has used his speed to his advantage, but at 31, that tool will fade. With money to spend, would the Red Sox rather have Hamilton for $30 million, or an aging Pagan for $10 million?
Here is another interesting chart:
.246/.298/.454, 28 HR, 78 RBI
B.J. Upton had a breakout year in 2012 with the Rays, flashing some power [28 HRs] and 29 doubles; at 28 he stole 31 bags, but his D speed will now limit him to a corner OF slot.
On the downside, he is a career .255 batter with: .336 OBP, .422 Slg. .758, OPS, 105 OPS+. He is capable of 20 HR, 80 RBI, 40 SBs per season, but it will cost 170 Ks with 70 Ws and who fans 26.2 times for every 100 ABs.
Some pundits say his hitting stats have been depressed by his home field, Da Trop, but the actual numbers give lie to that claim; EX: BA .252 Trop, .258 Away.
That will cost $11-$13 million per season over four or five years. The Phillies are rumored to be in the lead to sign Upton, but, since he is on the downside of his once promising career and will not remind any Sox fan of Ellsbury, the Sox should take a pass on this over-rated rally killer, who finally had his career year.
One of the top defensive outfielders in MLB, he had a very good last contract year with the Angels in 2012: .313, 16/92 with 24 doubles and 81 Rs. His career average stat line: .277 25/95 with 34 doubles and 89 Rs is equally solid and his 5.5 WAR for 2012 is impressive. So, what’s not to like?
He was making $18 million per season and, at 31, might want a multi-year final career contract; that would cost the Sox nearly as much as Greinke money and they can have Hamilton for $30 million a year.
“According to a report from Rob Bradford of WEEI Radio in Boston:
"According to a baseball source, the Red Sox have shown interest in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter.The 37-year-old (who turns 38 in July) has expressed interest in playing in Boston in the past, in large part because of the presence of his longtime friend, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz."
Hunter spent the last five seasons playing with the Los Angeles Angels and is coming off arguably his best season ever. He hit .313/.365/.451 with 16 home runs. He played great defense in right field, and his WAR of 5.3 (per Fangraphs) was the highest of his career.”
The Vegas bookies say that Hamilton will most likely go to the Giants, giving the Red Sox only a 9-1 chance of signing him, but, since the Sox are likely to move Ellsbury sooner than later, Cherington should pursue this professionally-talented/privately-troubled outfielder; they have the “Dodger Dump Dollars” to do it and still have money left over to solve their #1 problem—the “gaping Ace-hole”—with a Greinke caliber starter.