The 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings will be held in Nashville on Monday through Wednesday. Let’s take a look at some of the free agents and non-tendered players that the Red Sox may be interested in.
As everybody knows, Boston is looking for a first baseman, and have been linked to Adam LaRoche, Mike Napoli and Nick Swisher. It looked like the Sox might have their pick of the three but last night the Baltimore Orioles non-tendered Mark Reynolds, so they should soon be linked to these same players. LaRoche is probably the best of the three at first base but Napoli and Swisher would offer positional flexibility.
At shortstop, Jose Iglesias could inherit the job permanently but recently the Red Sox have been linked with Stephen Drew (who would start) and old friend Alex Gonzalez . If the Red Sox sign Gonzalez to platoon with Iglesias, it is quite possible that no ball would make it through shortstop all season.
In the outfield, Jonny Gomes may platoon with Jerry Owens in left field (unless the Red Sox go large and sign Josh Hamilton as a free agent, as Hunter Golden and yours truly have discussed). In right field (assuming the Sox do not re-sign Cody Ross), the aforementioned Swisher could play that position for a while. Although the Tigers tendered a contract to Brennan Boesch, it has been rumored that he will be available in a trade. Boesch had a down year so it may not take too much in talent to obtain him. Boesch had a good year in 2011 but has hit a terrible .116/.133/.186 at Fenway. Other possibilities in right could be Shin-Soo Choo (who would be available in a trade) and Nate Schierholtz (who the Phillies non-tendered).
As for starting pitching, it would be surprising if the Red Sox went for the top free agent starter Zack Greinke, but a more intriguing name could be Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez has turned into a power pitcher with high yearly strikeout numbers and a career 3.75 ERA. Additionally, Sanchez wouldn’t cost a draft pick to sign because he wasn’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. Sanchez would slot in nicely as a #3 starter in Boston. The next tier of free agent pitchers include hurlers that the Red Sox should avoid as they are inconsistent (Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse, Francisco Liriano), injury prone (Dan Haren, Shaun Marcum, Ryan Madson), merely an innings-eater (Joe Blanton) or the wrong side of 35 (Ryan Dempster).
Brandon McCarthy could be an excellent free-agent signing for the Red Sox. McCarthy was an average pitcher for the White Sox and Rangers but put it all together for the Athletics before his horrific injury late in 2012. Assuming he fully recovers from his brain surgery (and all signs are positive that he will), McCarthy could be a bargain signing. He’s only 28 and has learned how to be a good pitcher. An interesting name from the non-tender list is Jair Jurrjens. While Jurrjens lost it for the Braves in 2012, he had decent success before that. If Jurrjens would accept a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, he could compete with John Lackey for the #5 spot.
The bullpen could be where the action is in Nashville next week. The Red Sox may not be looking for a closer (as they have three erstwhile closers in Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard) but Joakim Soria, Jose Valverde and Jonathan Broxton are all free agents. Brian Wilson and his beard were also non-tendered by the Giants on Friday. Other relievers that the Red Sox could be interested in are Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Rafael Perez.