In the next upcoming days Bloody Sox will be posting 2012 positional review/early 2013 positional roster speculation pieces for each and every position. There will be 7 pieces total breaking down how each position performed as a unitlast season as well as previewing how each position shapes up for next year. No heavy speculation or Earth-shattering insight, just some simple primers to get ready for the offseason.
Whether or not you are comfortable labeling this upcoming offseason and next season a transitional period or even the start of a rebuilding process, this offseason figures to be wildly unique in regards to what us Red Sox fans have grown accustomed to. There are plenty of roster spots up for grabs, numerous positions of glaring weakness and the club now has a farm system that is once again a strength and not a weakness. The team has less money committed for the upcoming season than it has in ages and ultimately there exists more financial flexibility than there has been in years. That flexibility was created at the expense of losing a lot of talented players. The Red Sox figured to have learned from past fiscal mistakes, and can be expected to act with a bit more restraint in regards to the salaries they hand out. The 2013 roster as currently constructed is far less talented than it has been in a while, and GM Ben Cherington and the rest of the front office certainly have their work cut out for them.
This year’s free agent class won’t have the collective talents to meet the market’s needs, which is not a good thing for a team in Boston’s circumstances. The talented players come at a premium, and if the goal is not to hand out big bloated contracts, well, that might prove impossible to accomplish.
The Red Sox have 4 players signed to contracts for next season. John Lackey will make $15.25M, Dustin Pedroia $10M, Jon Lester $11.625M, and Clay Buchholz $5.5M. That is only $42.437M in committed contracts.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves, Craig Breslow, Ryan Sweeney, Mike Aviles, Daniel Bard, Franklin Morales, Rich Hill and Andrew Miller are all entering arbitration. It’s a safe bet to guess that collectively that group will make anywhere between 30-40 million dollars next season. The rest of the roster is full of players on their rookie contracts.
A very rough estimate of where the Red Sox will be after arbitration is about $80-90 million. Considering the fact that the Red Sox haven’t had a payroll under $120 million in almost a decade now, it’s obvious the team will have piles of money to spend. Last season’s opening-day payroll, for example, was $175 million and the two years before that were both over $160 million.
There are a countless amount of approaches the club can take to this offseason, and much of it is contingent on what the front office’s expectations for next year will be. Though reluctant to say so, it might be best to use next year as a true rebuilding and transitional season; don’t splurge on the big name free agents, continue to build the farm, and see what you have in regards to the young players that are major league ready. The Red Sox fan base is inherently spoiled at this point, and three years without playoff baseball seems like an eternity to most. But rushing things and not being realistic in terms of how good this team really is only will serve to be disingenuous and counterproductive. The reality is that the Red Sox will enter next season as underdogs and that should now be embraced. You can’t win every year, and sometimes trying to do so only backfires. This team has learned that the hard way, and now it’s time to fix things up again.
The first positional capsule will be the on the catching position. It is posted below. Here is the rest of the schedule for these pieces.
Saturday October 13: First Base
Sunday October 14: Second and Third Base
Monday October 15: Shortstop
Tuesday October 16: Outfield
Wednesday October 17: Starting Rotation
Thursday October 18: Bullpen
I am not exploring the DH position in depth. We know what we have in David Ortiz, and the prognosis for 2013 is completely contingent on him returning. If he returns we will be in great shape. If he doesn’t, well, we will speculate about it when and if that time comes.
Hope you enjoy, and feel free to comment.