Outfield Options Pretty Slim
After Conor’s article on the Red Sox left field prospects, the internal choices in the outfield are pretty weak. With Melky Cabrera joining the Blue Jays and Torii Hunter signing with the Tigers, the free agents left are quickly becoming shallow.
There are two other top outfielders that the Red Sox are most likely priced out of, Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn. Both of these outfielders will easily get $100 million dollar contracts, which hopefully the Red Sox have learned to not give out in free agency.
San Francisco Giants center fielder Angel Pagan scores against the St. Louis Cardinals during game seven of the 2012 NLCS ©Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
With all the top names off the board there are still some interesting free agents that the Red Sox could target for their outfield. Two of the better remaining outfielders are familiar with the AL East, B.J. Upton and Nick Swisher. In the past I’ve voiced my disfavor of signing Swisher but he is still an option none the less. Although Upton’s numbers are lower for the most part he provides more speed on the bases and in the field.
A cheaper option might be that of Angel Pagan. Sure, he provides little power but his career average is .281 and he gets on base 1/3 of the time. With the top of the order all set, Pagan could slide into the bottom third of the lineup and provide the no-easy-outs mantra that the team had in the years of Bill Mueller and Mark Bellhorn.
In an ideal situation the Red Sox would re-sign Cody Ross to play left and bring in Shane Victorino to play right. Victorino is coming off one of his worst years as a pro so maybe his value has diminished. Ross could provide the lineup with a little pop and Victorino could add to their OBP.
The player that I really like that I’ve heard very little about is Ryan Ludwick. At 34 Ryan Ludwick is a little older than the other outfield options but last year he had a good a year as any of the non-bank-breaking free agents. Last season Ludwick hit .275/.346/.531 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI. Last offseason Ludwick signed with the Reds for 1 year/$2M, if the Sox can get him for 1 year/$6M, i’d do that in a heartbeat. Ludwick will get much less than the 2-year/$26M contract that Torii Hunter signed, Ludwick has had a far less stellar career and has not been as consistent.
The last major outfield free agent is Delmon Young. I have no interest. A career OBP of .317, and a 162 game average of 16 home runs doesn’t wow me. He’s never lived up to his potential and his head isn’t all there. I hope the Sox stay far far away from Delmon Young.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald wrote that the Red Sox could over pay for one year contracts to keep the team competitive without giving up the future. Ryan Ludwick would fit that perfectly. Grady Sizemore and Ichiro Suzuki would also be options for one year deals.
The Red Sox don’t have the players on the roster that can be full-time outfielders and I don’t see any long term options in free agency so let’s just hope that the Red Sox don’t get tied in with more long term contracts.