When it became clear that Boston would not make a run to the playoffs, they traded away a few of their biggest stars, in order to save money. With Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford now playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox have a lot of holes to fill.
With Gonzalez gone, first base has become a priority for the Red Sox. They are also looking to upgrade at catcher and shortstop. Boston likely won’t be adding any perennial All-Stars, but they are searching for a few free agents to fill these major roles.
This may be the weakest position on the Red Sox roster. With the trade of Gonzalez and David Ortiz’s inability to play the field, Boston has no established first basemen. Jerry Sands, a 25-year old that has played 70 career games, is listed atop the team’s depth chart.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that executives around baseball feel Adam LaRoche could end up with the Red Sox. LaRoche would be a vast improvement for Boston. He’s hit over 20 home runs seven different times in his career. In 2012 with the Washington Nationals, he hit a career-high 33 home runs and 100 RBI.
After trading for Denard Span, the Nationals will likely move Mike Morse to first base. Washington may be prepared to let LaRoche walk, making the possibility of him signing with the Red Sox even greater.
The Red Sox also lack experience at shortstop. Mike Aviles held the position for Boston last year, but will not return after posting a pedestrian .282 on-base percentage with 13 home runs. Twenty-two year old Jose Iglesias is currently the team’s starter, but they may want to enter 2013 with a veteran on the roster.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Boston has inquired about both Stephen Drew and Alex Gonzalez to fill the role. The Red Sox are very familiar with Gonzalez, as he’s already had two stints with the club in 2006 and 2009. Drew split time with the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks last season.
Neither player was particularly good in 2012. Both played less than half the season, with Gonzalez taking the field just 24 times. Gonzalez showed some power, hitting four home runs in just 81 at bats. Drew had probably his worst year in the majors, hitting .223.
Boston doesn’t have much need for a catcher, but they still might sign one in free agency. Mike Napoli has been on the Red Sox radar for a while, and there have been rumors that he is the team’s No.1 free agent target. There were reports that they claimed him off waivers in 2010, but could not agree to a trade with the Los Angeles Angels.
Both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross are still on the roster, so Napoli might not necessarily start at catcher. He could spend most of his time at first base if the Red Sox don’t bring anyone in to play that position,
Napoli has the potential to be one of the best power hitters in the baseball. He hit 30 and 24 homers in the past two seasons, without playing more than 113 games in either year. If Boston can put him at first base and give him over 500 at bats, he could really help bolster the Red Sox offense.