Well, the Red Sox made a free agent move today (no, not Alex Rodriguez, folks) and made their arbitration tenders and nontenders. And they are…
- Red Sox sign Jon Van Every. Every hit .344/.416/.583 in 151 at-bats for AA Akron (Cleveland). He went up the ladder to AAA Buffalo and hit .272/.370/.468. The28-year old went through a period early in his career of not making enough contact, but he has started to come around. A lefty, he provides great depth at Triple-A and if Coco Crisp is traded, could battle for a bench spot. More than likely he spends most of the year in Triple-A and comes up in a pinch for injury. He’ll take over the David Murphy/Brandon Moss role.
- Red Sox offer arbitration to Eric Gagne. I like this. Look, Gagne’s history tells us that his issues with Boston was the exception, not the rule. A lot was said about his potential injuries, his struggling to adapt to a new environment and situation and the snowballing effect (which cannot be discounted). We are silly not to take a flyer on Gagne. He could be a flat out dominating presence as a setup man next year. Power arms in the bullpen are in short supply, and Gagne is a great option there. If he opts to go elsewhere, we get a supplemental first-round pick (Clay Buchholz was drafted with Pedro’s supplemental). Win-win all around.
- Red Sox offer arbitration to Mike Timlin. A formality. He’s about to sign a $3 million deal for one year to stay in red and pitch his sixth season in Boston. He ended 2006 and started 2007 terribly, but he was nothing short of fantastic the tail end of 2007.
- Red Sox decline arbitration to Royce Clayton. The team loved him in September and October. He seemed like a very nice guy who helped the clubhouse harmony. Too bad he doesn’t help on the field, and that’s why we aren’t offering arbitration. I wouldn’t mind signing him to a minor league contract and playing him at Triple-A. This is actually feasible: assume Lugo gets hurt at some point. If Lowrie is gone (or even if he’s still here), Clayton could be in line to get called up.
- Red Sox decline arbitration to Matt Clement. Not surprising here, because Clement’s salary cannot be reduced past a specific percentage in arbitration. It has nothing to do with not wanting him for his pitching and everything to do with salary.
- Red Sox decline arbitration to Bobby Kielty. Unsurprising as well. Kielty is fielding offers from other teams and probably won’t come back to Boston anyways, unless Crisp is dealt. I’m sure Theo made this move to make sure his options are open if Coco is dealt and he’s not hamstrung into Kielty. (That’s not to say Kielty’s not good enough; I think there’s a place for him here if Coco is dealt, but other outfielders might also fit better.)
- Red Sox decline arbitration to Eric Hinske. See Matt Clement to an extent — the salary was prohibitive. The actual player? I suspect that if he signed for a very reasonable salary, we might like him back. He has a good eye, good power and can play first, third and left. I think Hinske will go somewhere else where he has more of a chance of playing time, but if he didn’t like any offers, he could have come back near his current salary — which his production doesn’t justify.
- Red Sox decline arbitration to Doug Mirabelli. Slightly surprised at this, although not terribly. This is a clear indication that the Red Sox want to wait and look around — see what else is “out there,” so to speak. I don’t think there would have been anything wrong with offering it to him and bringing in competition in the winter, but there was no advantage to doing so, so there’s no sweat on this.