Editors Note: Quick into to our new Sox writer Jared Carrabis. Pretty sure that’s him on the jumbotron circa 2008. I have no idea what he’s doing in that picture or why he’s on the field wearing a shirt 3 sizes too big. Anyway so much for easing into the pool. We signed him up last week. Sox sign everybody the last 24 hours. Jared has been covering the Sox forever, is a great writer and a Stoolie. We’re psyched to have him on board.
While everyone was waiting for Pablo Sandoval to decide between San Diego, San Francisco and Boston, the Red Sox were busy crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on a five-year, $90 million deal with Hanley Ramirez last night.
Not long after, rumors were spreading around Twitter that the Red Sox had finally received their decision from Sandoval. Early Monday morning, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that Sandoval had agreed to a five-year deal with the Red Sox, in the neighborhood of $95-100 million.
So if Ramirez was previously viewed as a fallback plan at third base, this obviously changes things. Where does Ramirez fit in defensively now that Sandoval is in the fold? WEEI.com’s Alex Speier speculates that if both Ramirez and Sandoval are Boston bound, Sandoval, the better defender, would get dibs at third base, while the Red Sox could try to hide Ramirez’s defense in left field. This has already raised a bunch of red flags among Red Sox fans, but how soon they forget that another not so defensively graceful Ramirez played left field at Fenway, and won two rings in the process. It can be done.
In addition to the Ramirez in left field idea, it’s a guarantee that he wouldn’t be the left fielder for the duration of the five-year deal. As much as it pains me to say, we are quickly approaching the first season since 2002 that the Red Sox will have to go to battle without David Ortiz in the lineup. Entering his age-39 season in 2015, it’s safe to say that Ortiz’s career will come to an end during the length of Ramirez’s five-year contract, making him an easy candidate to take the place of his fellow countryman.
The number one question that is going to come out of all of this free agent spending, is will the Red Sox have enough money to pay Jon Lester after all the money they have on the table for guys not named Jon Lester. The simple answer is yes. Yes, they can sign all three of them. However, with those three names coming in, there will have to be names going out in order for this to make sense payroll-wise. It’s worth noting that in Heyman’s report, he states that Boston is “prepared to offer him close to $130 million over six years”, which is a little closer to the figure that I think will get it done, but not quite. The Red Sox reportedly offered Lester a 6-year deal worth somewhere around $110-120 million some time last week.
I’m sure there will be some fans out there who say that spending all of this money lessens the Red Sox’ chances of signing Lester, but if anything, it puts even more pressure on general manager Ben Cherington to get it done. The Red Sox are notorious for being a very PR conscious organization; that much we know. With that in mind, they have to know that the backlash from fans will be even greater if they are unable to sign Lester, given that they have already spent so much money elsewhere, and it’s now the difference of about $10-20 million to wrap Lester up.
The first name on the list of players who would be on the move is Yoenis Cespedes. It was already rumored that the Red Sox could look to trade Cespedes this offseason before all of this happened, but given that he has no compensation tied to him if he should walk via free agency after 2015, and how he was “not sure“ if he wanted to sign an extension with Boston last September — AKA I wan’t to be a free agent, but please don’t boo me in the meantime for wanting to get paid. A Cespedes trade would kill three birds with one stone. First, you’re freeing up payroll. Second, you’re freeing up left field for Ramirez. And third, they could give a call to the Cincinnati Reds and dangle Cespedes for Mat Latos, or put together a package with Cespedes as the centerpiece for Johnny Cueto (wishful thinking).
The Ramirez signing has also raised the question of what becomes of Xander Bogaerts? Well, I still think the Red Sox see him as a shortstop long term, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t find himself as the subject of trade rumors to acquire starting pitching, even more so if the Red Sox lose out on Lester. While Ramirez isn’t known for his defensive ability at the shortstop position, he’s much less of a defensive liability at shortstop than in left field, especially given that the Red Sox already have six thousand outfielders.
As for what I think about the Ramirez signing overall; I think the Red Sox got a good deal. Let’s not forget, Ramirez was asking for 6 years, $130 million ($21.7M AAV) back in May. He may not be the Marlins version of himself, but an average annual value of $18 million for a guy who, according to FanGraphs, was worth an average of $21.85 million over the last two years; that’s a good deal. They didn’t sign him for his glove, and he’s going to benefit greatly from playing 81 home games at Fenway Park, barring his annual hamstring pull.
And as for the Sandoval signing, I’ll admit he wasn’t my first choice (Chase Headley), or my second choice (Josh Donaldson), but he’s here now and it’s not as bad as it could be (Will Middlebrooks). A lot is going to be made about how he can’t hit from the right side after posting a line of .199/.244/.319 against left-handed pitching last year, but his numbers for his career aren’t that bad, .270/.317/.391. He’s a contact hitter who goes the other way almost as much as he pulls the ball, so you can count on the Green Monster turning former fly ball outs into doubles. Or maybe long singles, because he’s fat. Regardless of his weight, he is an above average base runner, and ranked 10th out of 24 third basemen in baseball in UZR/150 last year.
All that being said, it’s an interesting start to what should be an exciting offseason for the Red Sox. But there’s still a lot of work yet to be done.