Brian Hines (@BringLesterBack)
The Red Sox have been big spenders this offseason, bringing in two players for nearly $200 million dollars. Hanley Ramirez signed a 4 year $88 million dollar deal with a 5th year option, as Pablo Sandoval inked a 5 year $95 million dollar deal along with a 6th year option. The Sox addressed their offensive needs by going out, spending big and acquiring the two best hitters in this years free agent class. But what happens now? Who else do they sign, who gets traded, who plays where? These are the questions we're dying to find answers for. Lets take a look at some Red Sox predictions for the rest of free agency.
1. Jon Lester resigns with Red Sox
The biggest need on this team at the moment is pitching. The Sox need not only one but two guys to help fill holes in their rotation. Lester is the perfect guy to fill the first hole and lead our rotation. Lester spent many years with the sox before being traded to Oakland last season. He proved he can lead this team and play in Boston. he and his family love it here which Jon has stressed is very important on how he'll make his decision. Lester is drawing much interest around the league and has talked at least two other teams and has even more meetings scheduled for next week. The Red Sox is reportedly 6 years $140 million dollars, the highest out of any team. The biggest threat to the Sox to land Lester is Theo and the Cubs. They have offered Lester a 6 year $135 million dollar deal, but are willing to go higher to land Jon. The Red Sox have already raised their original offer by $20-30 million and will not go any higher than $145 for 6 years. The Red Sox feel that when Lester makes his decision, which might take another week, it'll be right back here in Boston.
2. Hanley Ramirez plays LF, and does it well
When the Red Sox brought Hanley in raised many eyebrows. The big question is where he'll play as the Red Sox have a young stud in Xander Bogaerts. We quickly learned that Hanley will take over the left field position. Many thought learning a new position at 30 years old might not be a good idea, especially at the major league level. But Hanley is a very good athlete and should be able to learn left field. Hanley will even be playing winter ball to get as much practice in at his new position as possible. I believe Hanley will figure it out and excel being in the shadows of the monster.
3. Yoenis Cespedes gets traded for a starting pitcher
When Cespedes got brought in last for Lester he had an immediate impact. His bat caught fire and really brought an offensive boost to this team. But since then things haven't gone well. Its been reported he isn't great in the clubhouse and wasn't willing to work out an extension because he doesn't really love playing here. The rumor of him being traded is pretty much a reality now that they gave so much money to Hanley to play left. The Sox have asked him to play center or right, but with our outfield depth he will most likely get moved. So what do we get in return. We need another pitcher. Lester would fill our one hole but that still leaves a hole in the 2 spot. Teams who need outfield power like Seattle, Texas, Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia and Cincinnati have all contacted the Sox about acquiring Cespedes. Players like Latos, Sanchez, Hamels, Zimmerman, Porcello and Iwakuma have all been rumored to the Sox. Any one of them would be a solid two guy in our rotation. If Cespedes is traded look for him to go to one of those teams, with one of those pitchers coming in return.
4. Napoli gets traded, Craig takes over first
Napolis name is starting to get brought up in trade rumors as teams are looking for a power bat. The Sox could use another pitcher in the three or four spot and trading Napoli could get a guy to put in that spot. The teams that have contacted the Sox about Napoli are not known as of now, but teams do have interest. If Napoli is traded for pitching what happens at first. I see Allen Craig coming in. He's not liked by most fans because of his performance with the team last year, but we need to forget about that. Craig is a very talented player who has bugged by injuries last season. In 2013 with the Cardinals, Craig was first in the NL in RBIs and was in the MVP race for awhile. He played so well the Cardinals extended his deal for another 6 years for about $33 million. Craig's injuries caused his play to decline this season. A finger injury caused him to change his swing so he could play through the injury with little pain. As he recovered from the injury he never was able to change his swing back. Going into the offseason healthy, Craig should be able to get back to his old swing and find his power again. Craig is also a very great defensive player at first. He has been described as a "brick wall" and has a very solid glove. If Napoli gets traded for a pitcher, I am very open to allen Craig taking over for him.
5. Hanley, Mookie and Castillo win the outfield
The stack outfield will lead to a competitive competition for the three jobs. If Hanley can learn LF he'll easily be cemented in as the LF. But CF and RF are the big questions. The options are Betts, Castillo, Bradley, Nava and Victorino. I think Castillo easily wins the CF position. He was given a good chunk of change to come here and is a very gifted player. That leaves RF as the biggest question. I think with Mookie's strong performance to end his season last year will win him the job. also that he's the perfect leadoff hitter for this team. I think Nava will hang around as a valuable lefty bat to give a guy a day off here and there. Victorino is someone else who is valuable. An experienced veteran can provide a lot to this young outfield. Victorino could split time with Mookie and Rusney as Victorino has mastered how to play the Pesky Pole in right field. That just leaves Bradley. Bradley could be an add on in a trade because of his great defense. His offense has been pitiful so if not traded, he'll most likely spend the season down in Pawtucket.
If all these predictions come true, which all of them have a good chance of happening, the Red Sox would be put in a position to win next season. With a lot of talent all around the field look for the Sox to make a strong push to get back to the playoffs, and maybe the World Series.
Questions or comments? Let me know below or on twitter @BringLesterBack