On Monday, General Managers, front office executives, and agents across baseball will convene in San Diego for the 114th annual MLB Winter Meetings. With all of the offseason baseball world in one place at one time, the Winter Meetings typically involves a ton of trade and free agent rumors and breaking news. In the recent past, we’ve seen big name players like Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Hamilton find new homes, along with many others significant assets joining new rosters. While the Red Sox haven’t been as active at the Winter Meetings since giving Carl Crawford an ill advised 7 year, $142M deal in 2010, the team has the motivation and assets to make a big splash this time around. After signing Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval for a combined $183M, Boston has already had an expensive offseason and still has holes to fill. The team’s biggest need heading into the Winter Meetings is starting pitching, and trying to find an ace to head the staff. Once Jon Lester signs — whether it be in Boston or elsewhere — the rest of the starting pitching market will begin to take shape in the form of trades and free agent signings. The 30-year old starter is still mulling over 6 year offers from the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers, with none of the four representing a true frontrunner. Earlier Monday morning, multiple reports indicated that it may ultimately take a seven year commitment to reel in the southpaw. If Boston winds up losing out on Lester, the team will be prepared with fall back options on the trade and free agent fronts. If pressed, I would venture to guess that Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is Boston’s number one fall back option. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo has reported multiple times that Philadelphia has scouted Boston at an alarming rate, which gives way to trade speculation. Like Lester, Hamels is a 30-year old southpaw with a ton of postseason success throughout his career. However, while Lester is staring down a possible 7 year, $150 commitment, Hamels has a much more reasonable 4 years, $90M left on his current deal. Of course, the down side in acquiring Hamels is that Boston would have to part with at least 2 or 3 of their top prospects. Philadelphia is reportedly enamored with Mookie Betts, and therefore would center a potential deal around the 22-year old. Overall, Hamels is just one of Boston’s many options on the trade market this winter. Starters like Jeff Samardzija, Ervin Santana, Rick Porcello, and David Price could also peak Boston’s interest as they reassemble their staff in San Diego.
- Over the weekend, Red Sox Principle Owner John Henry visited Jon Lester at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. While no specifics have been reported on the meeting between the two former club-mates, the belief is that Henry made his final plea to the free agent starter. Lester is currently deciding between 6 year contracts from the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers all of which fall somewhere in between $130M and $150M. The 30-year old hasn’t offered which contract he favors the most, but should make his final decision before the Winter Meetings are over. (Source: John Henry makes trip to visit Jon Lester)
- As the Red Sox try to rebuild their starting rotation this winter, the team could take advantage of a unique opportunity on the trade market. Instead of doling out lucrative contracts to the likes of Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, the team could trade for a one-and-done front line starter like Rick Porcello or Johnny Cueto. Of course the team would have to sacrifice some minor league and/or major league talent, Boston could afford to deal pieces without it being a detriment to their current or future rosters. (Red Sox could cash in their trade chips to bolster the starting rotation)
- While Allen Craig’s 2014 numbers don’t suggest it, he’s arguably one of Boston’s strongest major league trade chips. A career .300 hitter before a injury influenced 2014 season, the 30-year old’s career stats suggest that he’s a strong comeback candidate next season. Last week, we heard that the Miami Marlins expressed interest in the former Cardinal. This past weekend, however, the Milwaukee Brewers also gave Boston a ring on Craig. (Brewers interested in Allen Craig trade with Red Sox)
- Regardless of Jon Lester’s final decision, the Red Sox figure to be key players in the starting pitching trade market. For Boston, there is a ton of opportunity to rebuild the starting rotation quickly and effectively. Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels seems like a logical fall back option from Lester, while pitchers like Athletics southpaw Jeff Samardzija and Cincinnati Reds right hander Mat Latos also could be enticing to the Red Sox. (3 deals Red Sox GM Ben Cherington needs to be chasing at the Winter Meetings)
- Tweet of the day: “Josh Reddick, your thoughts on the A’s offseason moves so far…”
— Josh Reddick (@RealJoshReddick) December 8, 2014