The Boston Red Sox "Improbable Dream" season culminated in its third World Series win in a decade. However, now that the champagne has been emptied, the duck boats parked and Mike Napoli found, the Sox find themselves with a World Series hangover of 2004 proportions and major roster decisions ahead of them.
The business side of baseball has lit the hot stove season. General manager Ben Cherington and the Boston brain trust have about 100 days to decide whether to bring the band back or break up a squad that brought home a title.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew are all free agents. Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew were offered qualifying offers this week. That means each of those players could be back for 2014 on a 1-year, $14.1 million contract. Each player has seven days to accept the offer and return to Boston, or decline and test the open market. If the player turns down the deal, the Sox get a compensatory first-round draft pick from whatever team signs them.
Who stays, who goes, who do want?
Jacoby Ellsbury and agent Scott Boras are looking for a major deal. Rumors have Boras talking 7-years, $147 million with a number of teams including the Mariners, Rangers, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, Cubs, Cardinals and yes, the New York Yankees. That's a lot of cash for a 30-year-old player that has missed over 250 games in four years and has hit only 13 home runs the past two seasons.
Mike Napoli had a three-year, $39 million deal in hand last year before an undiagnosed hip condition voided the deal. The hip seems fine as Napoli set new career-highs in plate appearances, walks, runs scored, hits, doubles and RBI. Napoli may have hit only .217 in the playoffs, but he did have some clutch hits. Just ask the retired Jim Leyland. A repeat of last years original offer would probably get it done.
The fact Jarrod Saltalamacchia did not get a qualifying offer is very telling of where the Red Sox are with the 28-year-old catcher. While Salty had a solid season at the plate with career highs in batting average, RBI, OPS and doubles, he was benched during the World Series. The hot stove rumors also have Braves free agent catcher Brian McCann firmly in Boston's offseason radar.
We all know shortstop Stephen Drew's performance at the plate in the playoffs was putrid. But over the course of the season, Drew was one of the better hitting shortstops in the game as he hit .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBI. Drew was extended the $14 million qualifying offer, but sources say that Drew and agent Scott Boras want a multi-year deal. However, if Drew accepts the qualifier he would be the third highest paid player on the team. How does that make you feel?
Decisions are looming on Yawkey Way. What say you, Red Sox Lifer's?