Offseason Outlook: Boston Red Sox

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Red Sox.  Their likely 2009 commitments:

C –
C – Kevin Cash – $400K+
1B – Kevin Youkilis – $3MM+
2B – Dustin Pedroia – $457K
SS – Jed Lowrie – $400K
3B – Mike Lowell – $12MM
IF – Julio Lugo – $9MM
IF – Jeff Bailey – $400K
LF – Jason Bay – $7.5MM
CF – Coco Crisp – $5.75MM
RF – J.D. Drew – $14MM
OF – Jacoby Ellsbury – $406K
DH – David Ortiz – $12.5MM

SP – Josh Beckett – $10.5MM
SP – Daisuke Matsuzaka – $8MM
SP – Jon Lester – $422K
SP – Tim Wakefield – $4MM (club option)
SP – Clay Buchholz – $400K

RP – Jonathan Papelbon – $775K+
RP – Justin Masterson – $400K
RP – Hideki  Okajima – $1.75MM
RP – Manny Delcarmen – $421K
RP – Javier Lopez – $840K+
RP – David Aardsma – $404K
RP – Michael Bowden – $400K

That’s about $94MM committed, plus arbitration raises to Cash, Youkilis, Papelbon, and Lopez.  Those should nudge the Sox over $100MM.  They began the season with a $133MM payroll, and began ’07 at $143MM.  The Red Sox have a significant amount of money to spend.

The catcher situation needs to be addressed.  The Sox may offer Jason Varitek a one-year deal, or they could consider a free agent like Ivan Rodriguez.  The Rangers’ Gerald Laird would be a fine trade target, as he does not require seasoning and is under control for two more seasons.  Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez also may be available.  Joel Sherman suggests Russell Martin could hit the block; the price would be very steep.

Some of Boston’s veteran contracts are starting to look worse, particularly Lowell and Ortiz.  Still, neither player performed poorly this year.  The Red Sox don’t have a true albatross contract, though the $18MM owed to Lugo is bothersome.

There is not a clear place to add an offensive player aside from catcher.  The Sox might take a look at Mark Teixeira, probably to drive the price up more than anything.  They can afford him, but then they’d probably have to trade Lowell.

Boston’s ’09 rotation is already above-average, especially if Buchholz gets back on track.  Masterson and Bowden could also be rotation candidates.  Wakefield is an easy call to exercise at $4MM.  Like Teixeira, the Red Sox don’t need C.C. Sabathia.  Still, signing him would keep the best available pitcher away from the Yankees.  It would not be surprising to see the Sox make an aggressive bid for C.C.

Most of the bullpen should return; maybe the Sox will make a minor reliever signing to eat up some of Mike Timlin‘s innings.

The Red Sox are sitting pretty for ’09, with catching the only glaring need.  After that, GM Theo Epstein will have a lot of cash to spend on players who might be considered luxuries.  Epstein seems to feel the same way, based on his comments.

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