Ever since the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs at the 2004 trade deadline, they've been looking for a long-term solution at shortstop. They've gone the big name free agent route with Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo, tried the scrap heap approach with Nick Green, and gave a youngster like Jed Lowrie a shot as well. In total, they've used 19 different shortstops since the Nomar deal, including four in 2009
Alex Gonzalez did a bang-up job after coming over from Cincinnati mid-season, hitting .284/.316/.453 after the trade while playing his usual rock-solid defense. The Red Sox hold a $6MM option for 2010 on Gonzalez, but we've already heard that the option might be too rich for Boston's taste. Lowrie made two trips to the disabled list last year, and is a career .235/.313/.372 hitter in the bigs.
If the Red Sox decide to move on from Gonzalez and/or Lowrie, the free agent market doesn't offer much. Former Sox Orlando Cabrera will be available, however his on-base percentage has declined for three straight years and his once outstanding defense is just okay now. Miguel Tejada could be another option, assuming he's willing to take a significant pay cut. The righty hitter could be tailor made for Fenway Park's friendly confines.
On the trade market, the obvious target would be Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy, although Yunel Escobar and Stephen Drew may be available as well. After pursuing the likes of Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay, and Adrian Gonzalez at the trade deadline, the Sox could try to make a major splash for Hanley Ramirez. That would be a bigger blockbuster than the deal that original sent Hanley to Florida in the first place.
The Red Sox also have Cuban signee Jose Iglesias in-house, although it's probably too much to expect the soon to be 20-year-old to make the jump all the way to the majors. What do you think Boston should do about their shortstop problem this offseason? Should they bring back Gonzalez as a one-year stopgap, or go big and try to shore up the position this winter? Tell us what you think in the comments.