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3 Reasons the Boston Red Sox Can Be Big September Spoilers

The Boston Red Sox‘s hopes for a return to October baseball may be long dashed by now, but they can still throw their weight around when it comes to affecting the eventual outcome of the American League playoff picture.

Playing the role of a spoiler is not exactly a lofty goal for teams like the Red Sox, who always have high expectations. At this point, Boston’s priority should be the development of younger players on the roster as well as identifying the team’s most pressing needs for the 2015 MLB season. 

But Boston’s ability to finish strong in 2014 could prove vital in determining which AL east rival takes the division crown. The Red Sox’s play might also affect other teams’ chances around the majors.

Getting hot at the end of the year can be huge for any team regardless of the standings. Even if you are in the cellar—where the 56-71 Red Sox dwell—nobody wants to play you when you are riding a hot streak.

Boston can hope for this as the final month of the regular season draws near.

Let’s take a look at three specific reasons why the Red Sox can be big-time spoilers in the month of September. Many of Boston’s final matchups come against division rivals, so it will be interesting to see how the homestretch of the AL East plays out with the Red Sox being a significant factor. 


The Schedule

Nineteen of Boston’s final 26 games are against teams within the division. Only three of these are against the 62-65 Tampa Bay Rays—nine games out in the division and seven back in the Wild Card race—meaning the Red Sox’s matchups against the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and division-leading Baltimore Orioles are significant.

Baltimore has a stranglehold on the division—nine games up over both New York and Toronto, who are both tied for second place.

The Red Sox play the Orioles six times during September—three games at home and away, respectively. Baltimore is 7-6 against Boston this year.

It may be too much of a challenge to thwart the Orioles’ hold on the division alone, but if Baltimore enters any type of slump at the end of the season, these six games could be a factor.

But the Red Sox’s best chance of playing the spoiler role within the division will likely come down to how they fair against the Yankees and Blue Jays. Toronto plays three games at Fenway Park during the month of September and New York has six, with its final three of the season in Boston.

Facing a nine-game deficit in the division, both the Blue Jays and Yankees are likely vying for one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League. Boston is 5-8 and 3-10 this season against New York and Toronto, respectively.

Outside of the division, the Red Sox have the chance to upset the playoff hopes of the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Boston will play Kansas City four times and Pittsburgh thrice in the midst of a 10-game road trip.

The Red Sox lead the season series against the Royals 3-0. 


The Pitching

If the phrase “pitching wins championships” is true, then good pitching from a spoiler can also ruin a contender’s chances for a championship as well.

We know the complete overhaul Boston’s pitching staff underwent at the July 31 trade deadline. After the flurry of deals, the Red Sox’s rotation looks nothing like what it did on Opening Day.

Let’s not go so far as to say Boston’s rotation is elite. Far from it. 

But there are a number of reasons to be hopeful for the team’s current crop of arms in the waning days of the 2014 season.

Boston’s pitching staff has a 3.81 ERA over its past 12 games. The bullpen, such a strength last year, has posted a respectable 3.27 ERA this season.

The problem of late has been the offense. During that same 12-game span, Red Sox hitters are batting just .224, averaging 3.83 runs scored per game. Boston needs a little more offensive thump to improve that differential. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Back on the mound…

Let’s make a case study out of the Red Sox’s deadline acquisition of Joe Kelly. 

Kelly is 0-1 with a 5.29 ERA and 1.647 WHIP with Boston over three starts since the trade. Those numbers don’t look particularly inspiring, but it is a small sample size.

If we take away Kelly’s ugly August 17 loss to the Houston Astros, in which he allowed seven earned runs over 4.0 innings, Kelly’s team ERA falls to 2.08—clearly a much more favorable number.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe summarized Kelly’s impact over his first two games with Boston:

He’s now put together two very good starts since being traded from St. Louis along with Allen Craig for John Lackey, who has had one good outing and one bad outing for the Cardinals. Kelly is 26, while Lackey is 35. The Red Sox would rather have a pitcher throwing 94-96 miles per hour under their control until 2019 rather than deal with Lackey’s whining over a minimum salary contract and the fact that they would have to extend him to keep him happy.

Having Kelly under contract does provide some incentive. He’ll look to solidify his spot in the rotation for next year, and a positive showing down the stretch will undeniably help him with that.

Oh, and it may affect teams the Red Sox face as well.

Let’s bring our attention back to the rest of the rotation for a moment. 

Aside from Kelly, the Red Sox have Clay Buchholz, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Allen Webster starting. All four of these starters have something to prove for next year.

For Buchholz, it is the chance to show that his 5.94 ERA this season was merely a fluke. He wants to remain a part of the Red Sox’s rotation in spite of trade rumors that have been circulating.

Buchholz still feels he can shine, per Tom Layman of The Boston Herald, and he will have just over a month to prove it.

The rest of the rotation has something to prove as well. It is impossible to guarantee spots for De La Rosa, Workman or Webster next season given the possibility of adding a free-agent starter during the offseason. Additionally, many of Boston’s fine young arms—like Henry Owens and Anthony Ranaudo—will be vying for consideration.

Cafardo writes:

The Red Sox currently have no starting pitcher 30 or older, though Clay Buchholz turns 30 Thursday. Buchholz and Kelly surely sit on the front end of that rotation at present as the Red Sox continue to look at their youngsters such as Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster with Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, and Brian Johnson still in the minors.

Motivation can be a valuable tool even for players on a spoiling team. There are roster spots up for grab in 2015 and that competition begins now.


Getting Healthy

Boston’s 2014 season has been one mired in injury and setbacks. This has unquestionably been a major factor in determining why the Red Sox have gone from World Series champions to last in the division.

We touched on the recent struggles of the Red Sox’s offense. A .224 team average over the past 12 games is pretty rough, but there are reasons why.

Injuries have again taken their toll on Boston’s offense. 

Designated hitter David Ortiz (soreness), first baseman Mike Napoli (back) and third baseman Will Middlebrooks (hamstring) have all recently missed time due to injury, per Chris Towers of CBS Sports. Allen Craig has spent most of his tenure with Boston on the disabled list, having landed there on August 1.

Deadline acquisition Yoenis Cespedes has also missed time due to a family issue.

Cespedes, Craig, Ortiz and Napoli provide much more thump to the Red Sox lineup. Unfortunately, this cast has seen relatively few chances to help the team since the deadline, so getting healthy will be paramount as the Red Sox’s offense looks to improve.

Let’s speculate that it does, however.

That combination, if healthy, should be able to increase Boston’s recent average of 3.83 runs scored per game. If the rotation can hold its own, this would imply the Red Sox would improve on their overall record provided the bullpen can maintain its relatively solid season thus far.

This matters when factoring in the upcoming matchups against contending teams like Baltimore, Kansas City, New York and Toronto.

The Red Sox don’t need to blow these teams out—though it would be helpful if they could—rather they simply need to gain the edge.

That edge will produce wins and potentially shake up the standings.



It all comes down to three factors: opportunity, good pitching and a healthy lineup—areas that have hindered the Red Sox for much of this season.

The opportunity to thwart opposing prospects for the postseason is there. We can thank the makers of the 2014 schedule for that.

Boston’s rotation has a lot to prove in the final month of the season. As mentioned, jobs are on the line. Additionally, fielding a fully healthy team may provide the necessary boost the offense needs down the stretch.

We can’t say that this will necessarily happen, but there are signs that it could.

At this point, those signs are all we can hope for.


All statistics are accurate as of August 21, 2014. Statistics, records and accolades courtesy of unless otherwise indicated.  

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox. Be sure to check out his entire archive on Red Sox news, insight and analysis.  

Follow @PeterMcShots on Twitter.


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Boston Red Sox: 5 Players Trying to Save Their Jobs for 2015

The Boston Red Sox have started the proverbial “turning of the page,” as the team looks forward to its chances in the 2015 MLB season.

Boasting one of the deepest and most promising farm systems in all of baseball, the Red Sox can look forward to a bright future. It’s made up largely of home-grown talent developed in recent years thanks to the excellent coaching staffs within Boston’s minor league affiliates.

But with such a large cast of promising prospects, the invariable reality is that other players have to go. A major league roster is only so big, and the door needs to be in continuous rotation in order to maintain the legitimacy of a franchise over a long period of time.

We have seen the initial phases of this transformation. Some of Boston’s trade-deadline deals have brought in younger, cheaper talent. Other transactions were intended to give the Red Sox openings for which prospects could soon fill.

Yet a number of current Red Sox remain on the bubble when it comes to formulating the team’s outlook in 2015 and beyond.

Which of these players who end up staying may be directly attributed to their performances in the coming weeks? With Boston’s 2014 season all but conceded, the focus now shifts to putting the best team on the field next year.

In this slideshow, we break down five of these players who are vying to save their jobs with the team in 2015.

We shall look at the various factors behind why each player is on the bubble. And we will try to predict what each player needs to do and what must happen in order to remain on the roster.

Let’s have a look.

Begin Slideshow

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox’s Top 10 Prospects for Week 19

Another week is in the books following the July 31 MLB trade deadline, and the Boston Red Sox have enjoyed a little more time to evaluate some of the young talent contained within the organization.

As the news of Boston’s recent blockbuster trades begins to settle down, we can shift our focus to the next possible cast of characters that may comprise a Red Sox roster in coming years.

There is a lot to be hopeful for. The Red Sox are stacked in terms of prospects, and many figure to be integral parts of Boston’s future.

In this slideshow, we take a detailed look at the Red Sox’s 10 best prospects—a list provided by We shall evaluate how each prospect’s stock is rising, falling or staying put based on recent performances, accolades and other bits of relevant information.

Boston’s 2014 season may have been conceded, yet the future remains bright for this organization. Let’s dive a little deeper in assessing just how this franchise’s horizon looks.

Begin Slideshow

Breaking Down the 1 Trade Deadline Deal the Boston Red Sox Have to Make

The July 31 MLB trade deadline is less than two weeks away.

For the 43-52 Boston Red Sox, who are currently sitting in fourth place in the American League East—and 9.5 games back from the first-place Baltimore Orioles—the time has come for them to determine whether they’ll be on the buying or selling side of the trade fence come deadline day.

We could have a lengthy debate about which direction the Red Sox should go. 

A 9.5-game deficit within the division is daunting, even with over two months remaining in the season. But we have seen crazier things happen before, and bottom-dwelling teams can light up at the right moment.

Perhaps this is exactly what Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is hoping for.

In a way, Boston hasn’t even decided about its future this season.

Manager John Farrell described this position further via Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe:

Time will tell. I’m not privy to every conversation Ben has. This is a busy time of year for the entire industry. So I’m sure there will be additional rumors continuing to grow, but until we know something concrete, our job is to maintain our focus on the field each and every day with the intent to win each and every night. … No one has given up anything. No one has conceded anything. But we also have been in the game long enough to know that over the next two weeks names are going to start getting bantered about.

This conundrum leaves Boston at the aforementioned crossroads.

What if there was a move, however, that would be beneficial to either direction? What if the Red Sox could execute a deal that would not hinder their chances of salvaging 2014, but would also serve as a bonus if Boston decides that its postseason prospects have waned?

There is such a deal—the kind that would make sense on either side of the fence.

In short, Boston needs to trade incumbent closer Koji Uehara.

Let’s get the numbers out of the way first. Uehara’s 2014 statistics aren’t indicative that his age is catching up with him.

Over the course of 42 games and 43.2 innings pitched, Uehara has posted a 1.65 ERA along with a 0.756 WHIP—and he’s 39 years old.

His strikeout-to-walk ratio is down slightly from last year—9.50 in comparison to 11.22—but all other signs point to Uehara being as effective as ever.

So why trade the most venerable member of the Red Sox bullpen?

First, there are contractual considerations—Uehara is set to become a free agent no matter how Boston’s season ends. Having signed a one-year contract for the 2013 season with an option for 2014 that vested last August, Boston will have to determine his future with the team sooner or later.

Given his age, it is hard to judge where Uehara sees himself a year from now, but the fact that he is still pitching effectively suggests that he will want to retain a prominent role next season.

The only real question is whether or not it will be with the Red Sox.

In 2014, their lineup of batters has gradually transformed from that of aging veterans toward a younger cast of characters, who should comprise the team for years to come.

Outfielder Mookie Betts and catcher Christian Vazquez are two examples of Boston’s young talent breaking into the big leagues.

Since the Red Sox also have a plethora of pitching prospects awaiting their eventual debuts, they should also consider applying this theory to the pitching staff in general.

Granted, finding an effective reliever to serve in Uehara’s stead would be tough. Few closers have equaled Uehara’s performance in his two seasons with the Red Sox.

There are those analysts—like ESPN’s David Schoenfield—that would argue the closer position is overrated. 

The point isn’t that a closer isn’t important; of course he is,” he writes. “The point is that a lot of guys can do that job—and that the job is extremely volatile.”

This isn’t to suggest that Uehara is overrated or that his contributions are no longer needed, but if one wants to strike a balance between a quick fix and a long-term solution, then dealing Uehara makes sense.

Contending teams are almost always looking for pitching help, and they become even more desperate as the trade deadline approaches. Adding serviceable relievers can often be the difference between success and failure in the playoffs.

And how many postseason games are decided in the later innings? This author has seen more than a few.

Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (h/t Ben Shapiro of pointed out a possible buyer in the relief-pitching market via Twitter, suggesting that the Los Angeles Dodgers might be pursuing added bullpen help—namely former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. 

But Papelbon has a year remaining on his four-year, $50 million contract—with an option for 2016. While the cash-laden Dodgers have little concern over the price tag, a considerably cheaper move for Uehara seems much easier to pull off. 

The trade package would also appear more amenable from both parties’ standpoints.

As only a matter of speculation, a possible trade-chip commodity is Dodgers’ outfield prospect Joc Pederson.

With a loaded outfield consisting of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, Pederson’s chances of making the Dodgers’ big league roster appear distant.

In an article on back in November, Saxon pointed out this dilemma even after listing Pederson as the No. 2 prospect in the Dodgers’ farm system.

The Red Sox need outfield help—we know that all too well. Los Angeles has an overload of outfielders, and they want relief pitching, according to Saxon.

This sounds like a plausible trade opportunity. Of course, Boston could be enticed by a possible exchange for veteran outfielder Ethier, who is another rumored target, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (h/t Marc Normandin of SB Nation).

But why not go after a younger player with incredible upside?

Ethier is 32 years old, and his numbers have fallen considerably from the All-Star caliber stats he posted in 2010 and 2011.

The Dodgers, however, aren’t the lone entity when it comes to a potential trade partner. Other teams certainly come to mind when discussing the acquisition of relief help.

The Detroit Tigers are another contender with bullpen needs; Chris Iott of suggests the Tigers will be aggressive when it comes to upgrading this component.

We might as well add Uehara to that discussion as well.

Additionally, teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels are other teams that could possibly be in the same boat.

Any plausible transaction like this begs two questions—will it actually happen and, if so, who will take over the closer’s job in Boston?

Let’s address the second question first.

Lefty Andrew Miller would be the best option to fill the void, in this author’s opinion. He has been as serviceable a reliever as the Red Sox could have hoped for over the past two-plus seasons. Both righties and lefties are batting under .200 against him this year.

Miller is a pending free agent, and the Red Sox would like to keep him into 2015, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. Miller’s current contract is worth a little over $1.9 million, making him a much cheaper commodity than Uehara.

Why not preview what an increased role would do for Miller’s future in Boston?

The bigger question, of course, is whether or not the Red Sox would actually execute this idea. One could make the argument either way.

Cafardo reasons that Boston would like to retain Uehara for just one more season, based on the fact that Uehara has shown no signs of slowing down. Cafardo also points out the obvious—Uehara’s age alone could thwart a potential transaction, and the Red Sox would not be likely to get much in return.

We also know too well that teams get desperate as the playoffs draw closer. Exchanging highly touted prospects for two-month rentals is nothing new.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston shares this perspective—he suggests the Red Sox should trade Uehara if they can get something of value in return.

Edes’ statement is essentially our conclusion.

Boston won’t trade Uehara for some mid-range prospect or major league platoon player. The deal would have to be lucrative enough to convince Cherington that it’s the right one to be had.

As we have stated numerous times, however, teams in need of bullpen help at the deadline can be too aggressive—sometimes even overpaying for the talent they want.

From the Red Sox’s perspective, dealing Uehara would not mean conceding the 2014 season: As mentioned, Boston has bullpen options. More importantly, any upside addition to Boston’s beleaguered outfield would be nothing short of a bonus.

In addition, the Red Sox could secure at least something for Uehara if they decide that retaining him for 2015 is no longer worthwhile.

This is more speculation, of course. Trades can be a tricky thing to evaluate. While it is nice to play fantasy GM and swap excess components for the best players out there, the reality is that both teams involved need to come to a mutual agreement.

The complex nature of such agreements is nearly impossible to ascertain, which is why so many trade rumors never materialize.

Still, the Red Sox would be wise to shop Uehara. Given the fragile nature of the closer role, combined with Uehara’s age and contract status, we can deduce that the six-year veteran is not a part of Boston’s long-term plans.

From that vantage point, why not try to get something in return?


All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of—and contractual information via Cot’s Baseball Contractsunless otherwise indicated.

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report covering the Boston Red Sox. Be sure to check out his entire archive for Red Sox news, insight and analysis. Follow him on Twitter @PeterMcShots.

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Final Predictions for Winner of Boston Red Sox’s Key Spring Position Battles

Spring training is coming to a close and position battles are to be won or lost.

With the 2014 MLB season nearly upon us, the Boston Red Sox find themselves in an enviable position of defending their third World Series title in the last 10 years.

A number of familiar faces will carry over from last season into this year. Expected to start are guys like Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts.

Yet after a trying offseason, there also remain a number of position battles and questions remaining to be answered.

In this article, we shall take a closer look at these remaining issues and offer up predictions based on current and relevant information.

Who will start for the Red Sox in center field in 2014? Will it be oft-injured offseason pickup Grady Sizemore, or will it be a prematurely debuted Jackie Bradley Jr.?

Which player will manager John Farrell insert into Boston’s leadoff spot in the lineup? Could it be the veteran Shane Victorino, or perhaps a combination of Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes?

These questions and more will be at the heart of this evaluation. After all, the Red Sox are defending a World Series title within one of the toughest divisions in baseball—the American League East.

To do this, they will have to put the best product out on the field, so lets examine how this will happen. 


The Starting Rotation

Out of all the question marks surrounding the Red Sox’s plans entering 2014, the starting rotation is probably the least up for debate.

Yet as far as pitching goes, it is perhaps the most important.

We should all know at this point that pitching wins championships. Look no further than last year as a prime example.

We should also bank upon Boston’s No. 1 ace Jon Lester to start off coach John Farrell’s five-man rotation this season. I doubt there would be any questions surrounding that.

It’s the remaining pitchers behind Lester that are up for debate, although Farrell’s intentions have been made available.

The Red Sox rotation plans, per Ricky Doyle of, start with Lester, followed by John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the planned rotation is the slating of Buchholz as Boston’s No. 5 starter. But further evaluation gives some reason behind Farrell’s rationale.

When healthy, Buchholz has ace-like stuff, but Buchholz struggles to stay on the field. Over his seven-year career, Buchholz has appeared in 20 or more games only twice. Needless to say, injuries are always a concern with the talented righty.

Placing Buchholz at the back end of the rotation allows the Red Sox some flexibility if, and when, Buchholz succumbs to another injury in 2014. Buchholz‘s rotational replacements—most likely Brandon Workman or offseason pickup Chris Capuano—should take over the slot in the event of an injury.

At the back end of the rotation these pitchers would have much less pressure put upon them. Additionally, if Buchholz remains healthy, Farrell would have the option of skipping a Buchholz start on off days in order to give him added rest—an option that is much more feasible at the back end of the rotation.

Prediction: We are going to go with Farrell’s preseason rotation here. It should be Lester, Lackey, Doubront, Peavy and Buchholz, as stated.


Left Field

Perhaps this isn’t as much of a position battle as it is a determination of which player gets more playing time.

In left field, the Red Sox will once again look to platoon Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes, much like they did in 2013.

Nava has traditionally hit better against right-handed pitching, owning a career .292 batting average against righties.

On the other side, Gomes is much more effective against lefties, having posted a career .277 batting average facing left-handed pitching.

Mike Carp also figures to get some playing time as the Red Sox’s No. 5 outfielder.

Farrell summarized how well this platoon worked last year and stated his expectation about what may carry over in 2014, via Jason Mastrodonato of last November:

I know you can make the argument that [Gomes] performed better against righties this year than in years past, but when you look at the combination of what he and Nava did in left field, I want to say it was about 110 RBIs, it was close to 30 home runs, it was over 50 doubles.  I think that combination was extremely productive.  Depending on what the entire roster looks like when we get to Spring Training, that will have a lot to do with the workload of every guy on this team.  The one thing that we are sure of is that Gomes did exactly what we hoped for him to do when he came here.

On paper, it would be easy to assume that Nava should see the majority of time in left given the fact that most pitchers are right-handed. But Nava‘s production fell off a bit towards the end of last year, which gave Gomes more playing time down the stretch.

Dan Shaughnessy and Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe discussed the possibility of this happening again.

It could be a situation where Farrell continues with what works best in righty-lefty matchups this season while giving consideration to which player is riding a hot streak.

But for the sake of the position battle at hand, we shall go with what worked for the majority of last season.

Prediction: Nava is the favorite to get the majority of starts in left field followed by Gomes and Carp, respectively.


Batting Leadoff

Losing Jacoby Ellsbury to the New York Yankees via free agency hurts this lineup in a number of ways.

No matter how one slices it, it is going to be hard to replicate Ellsbury‘s production at the top of the order. His on-base potential combined with his blazing speed was a catalyst to Boston’s dynamic offense last season, ranked second in the majors with 0.64 first-inning runs per game.

So who will the Red Sox tab to fill Ellsbury‘s stead in 2014?

An initial prediction should narrow down Boston’s choices to Victorino and Nava. The Gomes-Nava platoon obviously has some influence here, but it is unlikely Farrell tabs Gomes as a leadoff guy considering he has only 14 career leadoff plate appearances over his career.

Bradley is not far along enough in his development to be asked to assume the role, if he even earns the starting center field job.  

More on Bradley later.

If Sizemore winds up making the 25-man roster he would be a plausible option, but I figure Farrell would guard him closely and not want to put the pressure of batting leadoff upon him.

So it is down to Nava and Victorino at this point—something pointed out by Farrell at the winter meetings earlier this offseason (h/t Doyle of

A couple of guys quickly come to mind.  Obviously, it’s [Victorino] and it’s Nava.  Both guys hit in the leadoff spot sparingly this past year.  We’re not going to replace 50-something stolen bases by Jacoby, so I think the biggest thing is who’s our best on-base percentage guy, to keep that individual in front of [Dustin Pedroia], David [Ortiz] and [Mike Napoli].  Those are the two guys that quickly come to mind right now.

Starting with Nava first, let us evaluate his splits. He owns a career .252 batting average in the leadoff slot with a .343 on-base percentage—decent numbers, but not necessarily awe-inspiring.

Nava is also 3-for-31 in 35 game-opening plate appearances, per Doyle.

These numbers, combined with the fact that Victorino has far more experience leading off, lend credence to placing Victorino in that spot—a decision Doyle also argues against.

While Victorino does have substantially more at-bats in the leadoff position—1,010 plate appearances to be exact—his career .249 batting average and .317 on-base percentage are not exactly promising.

Even with these numbers, the position battle has to be leaning more toward Victorino given his experience and recent statistics in a Red Sox uniform. Andrew Martin of Yahoo! Sports points this out by writing:

[Victorino] also has the speed desired at the top of the order, with his 21 stolen bases in 2013 being the most of any player returning from last season.  If he does win the role, he will bring experience with him, though not a ton of success, as he has hit .249 with a .317 OBP in 216 games while hitting leadoff in the past.  As things stand, the versatile veteran is probably the best bet to lead off for the Red Sox but until the regular season arrives, nothing is set in stone.

It certainly is not the most desirable situation for Farrell and the Red Sox to be in, but Doyle and Martin’s predictions are probably the best possibility for Boston’s lineup.

Prediction: Victorino earns the nod as the Red Sox’s leadoff hitter.




Starting Center Fielder

This is perhaps the most closely watched position battle the Red Sox have had this spring training.

In an ideal world, Ellsbury would have been signed for one more season, which would have given Bradley another year to continue his maturation and development.

But Ellsbury is gone and the pressure is now on one of Boston’s top prospects to take over the role in Ellsbury‘s wake.

The only question is whether he can handle the job yet.

Bradley’s 2013 MLB debut was anything but spectacular. Hitting a mere .189 in 95 at-bats revealed the young talent is not quite ready for life at the major league level. Combine that with his .200 batting average thus far into spring training, and one has to wonder if those struggles will continue into the 2014 season.

All of that is provided Bradley even makes the team.

During the offseason, the Red Sox added veteran outfielder Sizemore.  Once a perennial All-Star, the 31-year-old Sizemore has suffered a slew of setbacks and injuries that have thwarted what was once a promising and stellar career.

Oh, and Sizemore has not played at the major league level since 2011.

In comparison to Bradley, however, Sizemore has put together an impressive spring—batting .360 in 25 spring training at-bats.

On paper, the determination of which player receives the starting center field job is easy. Upon further evaluation, things get a little more difficult.

For starters, we should assume the Red Sox will carry over only five outfielders in 2014 on their 25-man roster. With Carp, Gomes, Nava and Victorino taking up the remaining slots, it is almost impossible to assume that Boston keeps both Bradley and Sizemore on their major league roster.

The dilemma is this: Sizemore is putting up far better numbers and would be a cheap and viable replacement, similar in mold to Ellsbury. The only problem is that Sizemore carries a huge injury risk.

Bradley would ideally be the best option, coming up from the Red Sox’s farm system and being a young talent without an injury reputation, but he is showing significant problems adjusting to the pitching at the major league level.

If one wanted to make the argument in favor of Bradley winning the starting job, it could be the one offered up by Peter Kerasotis of The New York Times, which states that in spite of his troubles, Bradley is getting plenty of playing time.

This indicates that the Red Sox are far from convinced that Bradley needs another season in the minors, even if that is the eventual route the team takes.

Yet Farrell has hinted that he could see a scenario where Bradley starts off the season at Boston’s AAA affiliate, while Sizemore gets the nod on Opening Day, per Mike Petraglia of

“Yeah, I could envision that.” Farrell said.  “But we’d also want to maybe get some exposure with somebody else out there, too, just to take the look while we have the opportunity in spring training.”

The numbers don’t lie, and the longer Bradley’s struggles at the plate continue, the more likely Sizemore earns the job, even with injury concerns.

Prediction: Not wanting to carry six outfielders on the roster, the Red Sox place Bradley in the minors at the start of the 2014 season and give the starting job to Sizemore.


Predictions, being what they are, can never be viewed as a clear-cut indication of what is going to happen. One has to consider all the various factors and intangibles associated with the happenings in a major league season.

Injuries can play a factor; slumps can have effects as well. There are plenty of other obstacles and unforeseen circumstances that have a role.

The Red Sox are no different when it comes to determining the best-possible situation for their remaining position battles and questions as Opening Day approaches.

They also want to ensure enough flexibility to account for some of the problems that may arise over the course of the season.

While all of this is yet to be determined, the final roster spots on the Red Sox’s roster are taking shape.  

All we have to do is wait until Opening Day to determine what pans out.


All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of unless otherwise indicated.


Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.


Read more MLB news on

Breaking Down the Boston Red Sox 2014 Offseason Thus Far

Saying the Boston Red Sox have had a quiet offseason thus far into 2014 is an understatement.

To be frank, the Red Sox have not exactly been active in targeting some of the high-profile free agents who have been available during the offseason.

We do know some of the significant moves Boston’s general manager Ben Cherington has made thus far—re-signing first baseman Mike Napoli, bringing in some bullpen help, signing veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski and adding outfielder Grady Sizemore.

But when compared to some other teams’ transactions this offseason—like those of the New York Yankees—the Red Sox’s offseason plans certainly cannot be described as splashy.

The lack of action may also indicate to some, like The Boston Globe writer Christopher L. Gasper, that the Red Sox are doing too little this offseason.

So what can we make of all this?

As Boston’s chief rival enjoys an offseason full of additions, the Red Sox have been far less aggressive.  Is this a cause for concern?  Perhaps, but it may also be an indication that Cherington is happy with the product Boston will put on the field in 2014.

The Subtractions

Goodbye Jacoby Ellsbury.  Goodbye Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Goodbye (most likely) Stephen Drew.

In hindsight, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Ellsbury would sign elsewhere after the 2013 season.  Eventually commanding a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees, Ellsbury‘s departure to the team’s chief rival looks much like the transaction that befell Johnny Damon years before.

More on that rivalry later.

That was money Boston had no interest in spending.  It also goes against almost everything that Cherington has practiced with this team over recent seasons—short-term, higher-priced contracts that do not inhibit the Red Sox’s abilities to make future moves.

The same could be said of former Red Sox catcher Saltalamacchia, who joined the Miami Marlins on a three-year, $21 million contract.

The last of those key free agents, Drew, has yet to find a new home.  Indications are that Drew will not return to Boston, as pointed out by CSN New England Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam.

None of these were players Cherington was willing to sign to long-term deals.  As a result, they will move on.

So how can the Red Sox react?

First, one cannot overlook the in-house options Boston plans on utilizing in 2014. 

Chief among these is the emergence of infielder Xander Bogaerts, who is ranked as Boston’s No. 1 prospect, according to Baseball America.

Bogaerts, who hit .296 with a .893 OPS in the postseason last year, is the primary beneficiary of Drew’s pending departure. 

All signs point to Bogaerts being the real deal―perfectly capable of handling the reigns of being a starting shortstop.

This was described further by former Red Sox AAA manager Gary DiSarcina, who stated via Alex Speier of

The one thing I really looked at with Xander was the ability to play the game in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth innings defensively.  What I loved about him is he stayed calm in the field, he made the plays.  He’s a little unconventional—he’s a narrow-based infielder, he’s tall, he’s going to be a big kid, he’s still growing. He’s got a great arm, he’s got great hand-eye coordination.  I’m excited for Xander to have that resource around for all of spring training.  I think leave him out there until he plays himself off the position, and I see no indication of that.

There are few reasons to assume Boston will be worse off with Bogaerts moving forward.

Yet it is a little tougher to assume the same with the Red Sox’s future hopes in center field.  With Ellsbury gone, the job is Jackie Bradley Jr.’s to lose.

Ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America, it is hard to assume Bradley will not play a vital role in Boston’s future for years to come.

Will that happen in 2014, however?

Early indications from Bradley’s limited 2013 campaign suggest that he may go through a period of adjustment at the big league level.  In 107 plate appearances last season, Bradley hit a mere .189 with a .617 OPS. 

Those numbers alone suggest Bradley has some tough days ahead of him.

What is promising, however, is that Bradley appears to have a very high ceiling—something that was pointed out by Jim Callis of, via

I think Jackie’s ceiling is pretty high.  I think he’s a potential Gold Glove center fielder.  I think he’s going to be a high on-base guy.  And I think he’s going to be a 10-15 home run guy.  I actually think, he’s not as fast as Jacoby Ellsbury, but I don’t think there’s really any question, I think he’s a better defender than Jacoby Ellsbury—and Jacoby’s pretty good.  I know this sounds crazy, and it’s not a lock, but I think he can be a better player than Jacoby Ellsbury in the long run.

It is clear that the Red Sox are staking their hopes on Bradley moving forward.  After all, what is the use of having top prospects if they are not utilized in a substantial role?

The only question is whether Bradley will be able to grasp the pressure of being a full-time center fielder in 2014.  There were some indications of struggle last year, and the possibility of him having more growing pains in 2014 is highly plausible.

Boston seems well aware of this and addressed the need for a veteran center fielder by signing Sizemore.  More on him shortly.

Also pertinent to the Red Sox’s plans for success in 2014 was the need for a backstop to replace Saltalamacchia behind the plate.


The Additions

With Salty gone, Cherington turned to Pierzynski to take over the starting job at catcher—signing him to a one-year, $8.25 million deal.

The deal makes sense in a variety of ways.  First, the Red Sox are indicating that top catching prospect Blake Swihart will not be ready for the majors in 2014.

Second, the one-year deal is typical of what Cherington likes to do—short contracts, even if the money spent, in terms of per-year average, is higher than long-term deals.  If Pierzynski works out (he owns a lifetime .283 batting average and .850 OPS), Boston will be the primary beneficiary.  If he does not work out, the one-year deal makes the transaction a little easier to swallow and gives Swihart another year to develop.

Lastly, any indication of Pierzynski’s clubhouse “issues” appear to be moot, as pointed out by Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, via Ricky Doyle of

I’ve played against him a whole lot, and he’s a good dude.  He’s a champ.  His background’s well-documented.  I think he’s one of those guys, people talk about hating to play against him, but his teammates got his back all the time.  I think what’s kind of unique about how fast it happened is that this Red Sox clubhouse—Red Sox style of play—I think was stamped last year.  You can’t be a bad apple and come into this clubhouse.

It is hard to fathom Pierzynski’s negative reputation being a factor in 2014.

What should be a factor is the addition of two quality arms to Boston’s already venerable bullpen—Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica.

Badenhop owns a lifetime 3.98 ERA over six seasons but has been most effective the last two.  Opposing righties hit only .229 against him in 163 plate appearances last season.

Mujica is also a reliable commodity, having closed for the St. Louis Cardinals for a sizable portion of the 2013 season.

While bullpen arms rarely generate any significant buzz during an offseason, one cannot overlook the importance of having quality relievers.  After all, how many games can be won, or lost, in the late innings?

The addition of utility infielder Jonathan Herrera also gives Boston some added flexibility.

The last significant addition from Cherington came when he signed Sizemore to a one-year, $750,000 deal plus incentives. 

Earlier this month, I wrote a piece describing three things Boston needed to do this offseason.  One of them was finding an insurance policy for Bradley.

After signing Sizemore, the Red Sox appear to have accomplished this.

Yet Sizemore does not come without concerns.  Yes, there are those, like Nick Cafardo from The Boston Globe, who would argue that Sizemore was Ellsbury before Ellsbury was Ellsbury.

Still, one cannot overlook Sizemore’s injury problems.  He missed both 2012 and 2013 due to various ailments and is five seasons removed from his last full season without significant injury.

While he is a lifetime .269 hitter, questions surrounding his durability cannot be avoided.

But the Red Sox are likely not banking on him being the starting center fielder in 2014.  The only way for him to guarantee that role is if Bradley’s eventual struggles are far too compounded for Boston to overlook.

As such, look at Sizemore as an insurance policy and nothing more.


The Contrast

It is impossible to gauge the Red Sox’s offseason actions without taking a look at their chief rivals—the Yankees.

With New York having inked a plethora of star players, including Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann—along with landing Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka—one might easily speculate that the Yankees won the offseason battle of addition.

The Yankees are, once again, looking like the Yankees after spending plenty of cash and signing players to lengthy contracts.  They have the money and are using it.

Still, in the opinion of this author, New York’s starting rotation remains suspect after Tanaka—an unproven major league commodity—and CC Sabathia.

Pitching wins championships after all, and the Red Sox can boast plenty of that.

As far as the offense is concerned, the Red Sox look as though they are starting the phase of getting younger, which has been indicated by their apparent reliance upon young stars like Bogaerts and Bradley. 

Yes, they have brought in some older veterans, but these pieces should merely be viewed as supplementary and temporary.

While the Yankees appear to be reliant upon star-studded offense in 2014, the Red Sox will once again bank on Cherington‘s formula.  It paid off in 2013.


The Conclusion

Boston will still have plenty of questions moving forward into spring training and the 2014 regular season. 

Aside from talks of extending long-term contracts for players like Jon Lester—and more recently, those about David OrtizCherington‘s formula of short-term contracts appears to be paying off. 

There will be some drop-off in a number of areas, most notably from the Red Sox leadoff position.  Bradley and Bogaerts will likely go through some growing pains this season, and the production, so potent offensively last year, may be slightly hindered in 2014.

Still, it is impossible to overlook the fact that Boston has most of its chips in place for the upcoming season.  The starting rotation is set, and the bullpen has been reinforced.  Defensively, the Red Sox should remain solid. 

Say it again—pitching and defense win championships.

Boston’s offseason additions will not likely sell more jerseys or generate the same amount of hype that the Yankees have generated.

The moves were neither splashy, nor blockbuster.  They did not have to be.

It is a league where the biggest moves are not necessarily the best ones.  Cherington has proven that before and hopes to do so again.

All that remains is seeing how it all pans out.


All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of unless otherwise indicated.  Contractual information provided by Cot’s Baseball Contracts.


Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on

Biggest Winners and Losers from Boston Red Sox’s Offseason

In the midst of a number of splashy moves made around the MLB, the Boston Red Sox have remained very quiet this offseason.

Following its 2013 World Series crown, Boston could have been in a dire situation heading into spring training 2014.  The team had its share of free agents, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Two have already departed, and another may do so soon.

The remaining free agent, Napoli, was one of the primary targets of the Red Sox this offseason. 

In the wake of these free-agent departures—and since we’re already this far into the offseason—Boston appears set to rely on its current roster with only a few minor additions from outside the organization.

Will that work?  Only time can tell.

While general manager Ben Cherington is likely happy with the team’s chances of defending its championship, the fact remains that the Red Sox will again be faced with a tough challenge as the rest of the division—and the American League for that matter—have made significant adjustments to overtake Boston’s reign.

In this article, let us take a look at the biggest winners and losers from the Red Sox’s offseason thus far.  Some guys got paid.  Others did not.  Boston is stronger in some areas while weaker in others.

Begin Slideshow

3 Things Boston Red Sox Still Need To Do Before the Start of Spring Training

It might be a likely assumption that the Boston Red Sox are set with the team they hope to carry into spring training in 2014.

The Red Sox have seen a number of changes from the roster that won them the World Series the year prior—the most notable being the losses of Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia via free agency.

As quoted from Chad Finn of, “All of their essential offseason business is done, other than waiting for Stephen Drew to inform Scott Boras (or is it vice-versa?) where he will play baseball in 2014.” 

Yet general manager Ben Cherington seems poised to defend Boston’s World Series crown with the current team on paper. 


By letting players like Ellsbury go, Boston is putting its faith in the development of young prospects like Jackie Bradley Jr. at the big league level.  The same could be said if Drew departs in regard to prospects like Xander Bogaerts.

Regardless of that faith in this current roster, the Red Sox still need to take some action before the commencement of spring training.  While there is not necessarily much to do, it is imperative that Cherington approaches these situations with prudence so that the benefits can be reaped during the course of the forthcoming season.

Let us take a look at three things that need to happen in Boston.


Backing Out of the Stephen Drew Discussion

There was a time earlier this offseason when the Red Sox were still interested in retaining Drew’s services.

Boston offered Drew a qualifying offer, and he subsequently turned it down.  Since then, Cherington and the Red Sox have been open to Drew returning, albeit on the team’s terms, per Peter Abraham of

Said Cherington via Abraham, ““We like Stephen and the job he did.  Because of that we’ve kept the door open.  We’re going to continue to listen and talk and see where it ends up.”

Since the holidays, Cherington and Drew’s agent Scott Boras have had zero contact with each other, per Ricky Doyle of NESN.

While the lack of action could be an indication that Boston is perfectly content with letting Drew sign elsewhere, it would be nice for Cherington to stand by his young players and reveal the final intention of this team regarding its future direction.

The primary beneficiaries?  Bogaerts and third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

As far as Bogaerts is concerned, there are few reasons to assume he will not be an impact player in the very near future.  His .298 batting average during Boston’s postseason run is a good indication of what type of player he may become.

A similar argument can be made of Middlebrooks.  While Middlebrooks’ 2013 campaign was not particularly awe-inspiring—he batted only .227 with a .696 OPS—one cannot overlook the fact that he was once touted as a high-level prospect within the Red Sox’s organization, especially through 2011 and 2012.

One year removed from his 2012 rookie season—where he hit .288 with a .835 OPS—it is safe to assume Middlebrooks possibly suffered from a “sophomore slump” and deserves at least one more season to prove his capability at the big league level.

If Drew is re-signed, that would likely force Bogaerts and Middlebrooks into a platoon role at third.  Neither would benefit from this scenario, Bogaerts most significantly.

Both are deserving of a full-time role in 2013 and would benefit from the knowledge that their roles would include being everyday infielders.

Thus, Cherington would be best off wishing Drew the best and sticking to what the Red Sox already have moving forward.

Perhaps this is exactly the direction toward which Cherington is heading.



Stay Out of the Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes

There is a strong possibility that Japanese star righty Masahiro Tanaka will be the big deal in the majors.

The interest Tanaka has garnered from a plethora of MLB teams speaks to this.  Where he winds up is anyone’s guess, according to Jesse Spector of The Sporting News.

Plenty of factors could inhibit Boston’s legitimate pursuit of Tanaka outside of the $20 million posting fee it would cost to negotiate a contract.

Paul White of USA Today describes why the Red Sox would be interested in the first place:

The champions have to think about any major free agent.  It would overload the already-crowded rotation but that only puts them in position to trade for other upgrades and guard against upcoming contract talks with the current staff.  It’s tough to beat the attraction of the World Series champs in an iconic ballpark with Japanese guys on the staff who are comfortable in the environment.

Herein lie some of the problems.  First, as mentioned by White, Boston’s rotation is already crowded—a total of six venerable starters under contract who will likely be on the roster by Opening Day.

While that does give the Red Sox some flexibility with their rotation, potentially to execute a trade, one has to wonder if this would thwart the chances of locking up contract extensions for starters like Jon Lester, whose contract expires after 2014.

It also could get in the way of some of Boston’s young pitching prospects—further described by Finn here.

Tanaka will likely receive a long-term and lucrative contract, which goes against nearly everything that Cherington has done with the Red Sox in recent years—short-term, more-expensive contracts without long obligations to many players.

Lastly, Tanaka is still an unproven commodity at the big league level.  Unlike minor league prospects who can be slowly worked into a big league role, Tanaka will likely be relied upon immediately rather than being worked into a rotation.

While the Red Sox have talked with Tanaka’s agent, per Doyle, nothing more has transpired.  This leads us to believe that Cherington is doing the proverbial “kicking of the tires” regarding Tanaka’s future landing spot.

Even if Tanaka is the real deal, Boston already has a bona fide lineup with plenty of talent waiting in the folds.

Banking on that should be the Red Sox’s priority here.



Finding an Insurance Policy for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley’s impact at the big league level will likely be the direct result of Boston losing Ellsbury to free agency.

There are two ways to look at this.

If Bradley prospers in his first full season with the Red Sox, any concern over his development will likely be an afterthought.  If he struggles, however, Boston may be forced to deal with any ineptitude that transpires in 2014.

This is not to say Bradley will not amount to a major league talent.  On the contrary—Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus has Bradley ranked as the No. 2 prospect within the Red Sox’s organization.

Yet let us assume for a moment that Bradley emulates the type of hitter he was in a limited 2013 campaign—he had a .189 batting average and .617 OPS in 107 plate appearances.

As Bradley develops, are those numbers that the Red Sox want to count on from a starting center fielder?

Pending some outfield shuffling—which causes its own set of problems—the Red Sox could rely on in-house options like Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp to balance out the remainder of the outfield, complementing Shane Victorino.

A better option could be a short-term deal—something that the Red Sox are known for—for an already established center fielder that could provide an upgrade over Bradley in 2014. 

Who this could be, or how Cherington could make it happen, is anyone’s guess, but this option would at least give the Red Sox a chance to work in Bradley at a much more reasonable pace and not risk demolishing his confidence.

Plus, the added competition is always a noteworthy thing come spring training.


In all likelihood, the Red Sox appear all but set with their franchise heading into spring training. 

There are things they should do, things they should not do and certain elements that could use some tweaking.

Yet at the end of the day, Boston is in a strong position to defend their World Series title.  They boast a formidable rotation and bullpen and can rely upon steady defense.  The Red Sox offense is also in good position moving forward.

At any rate, we shall see how these issues pan out over coming weeks and months.  Spring training, after all, is only a short time away.


All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of, unless otherwise indicated.  Contractual information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.


Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on

Odds of Top Boston Red Sox Prospects Making 2014 Opening Day Roster

In 2013, the Boston Red Sox turned from a last-place franchise into a World Series champion.

This sort of transformation, while rare and difficult, was the direct result of a number of key moves from general manager Ben Cherington—moves that combined incumbent stars with the right type of free agents to solidify what would be a championship team.

Looking forward to 2014, Boston will once more rely upon some magic.

This time, instead of focusing heavily on free-agent acquisitions, a number of young and talented rookie prospects will likely be asked to fill the voids left by certain players who are no longer with the team—or at least pending departure as is the case with shortstop Stephen Drew.

Along with Drew, Boston lost a number of the players that helped it win its third World Series in the last nine seasons.  Gone is center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury along with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Red Sox major free-agent acquisition to address these needs was catcher A.J. Pierzynski.  Other acquisitions landed bullpen depth as well as the needed retaining of first baseman Mike Napoli.

These losses open up the door for minor league and rookie prospects to have a shot at making the Red Sox’s Opening Day roster.

For the purposes of this article, we shall examine the top five Red Sox prospects and determine their chances of making the Opening Day roster.  This author shall use the rankings provided by Alex Speier of WEEI for Baseball America.

The report tells us much of what we already know—Boston has a very deep farm system and should be in excellent shape in coming years.  Yet, given the cast of incumbent Red Sox starters, many of these players will not have an impact in 2014, which leaves the door open for only a few guys to make the roster.

Some, like Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., have an excellent chance given the opportunity.  Others may have to wait their turn.

In any case, let us evaluate these top five prospects and determine whether or not we will see them at the start of the 2014 season.

Begin Slideshow

Buying or Selling the Latest Boston Red Sox Rumors

As the year that saw the Boston Red Sox win their third World Series Championship in 10 years winds to a close, fans and analysts are wondering what the franchise will do to back up their crown in 2014.

Boston has been relatively quiet this offseason, as shown by the team’s transactions provided by CBS Sports.

The heart of Red Sox Nation primarily has focused on the departures of a number of key figures from the 2013 championship team—most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Still, the Red Sox’s relative silence thus far into the offseason does not mean the team will remain inactive until Opening Day next year.  There is still plenty of time for general manager Ben Cherington to make some moves.

Let us take a look at some of the recent rumors surrounding the Red Sox and cash in on whether they are fact or fiction.

Trading for Outfielder Matt Kemp

There was a time, not so long ago, where the Red Sox were rumored to be involved in discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers regarding a potential trade for All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp.

Perhaps it is time to put these rumors to bed once and for all.

While it would have been nice for Boston to add a vaunted offensive presence to their lineup—as well as a two-time Gold Glove recipient—a deal for Kemp is virtually out of the question at this point.

For starters, Kemp’s injury concerns have hampered any serious discussions with a number of teams that have reportedly been interested.

This aspect is elaborated upon by Ricky Doyle of NESN who states:

The 29-year-old has missed time in each of the last two seasons with a shoulder problem and an ankle issue, so there’s obviously going to be some concern about his health status for whichever teams consider making a deal.

That alone is reason enough to thwart any potential deal.

In addition, Kemp’s agent Dave Stewart stated that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti informed him that the team has no intentions of trading Kemp this offseason per Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.

If you were hoping to see Kemp in a Red Sox uniform in 2014, you may want to back away from those prospects.  It is not going to happen.

Status: Sell


Re-signing Shortstop Stephen Drew

Unlike the aforementioned deal for Kemp, the retaining of shortstop Stephen Drew is a little tougher to disseminate.

The situation is relatively simple—if Drew signs elsewhere, Boston will roll with the upcoming Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and two-year veteran Will Middlebrooks at third.  The Red Sox will also receive a compensatory first-round draft pick if Drew signs with another team.

If Drew re-signs with Boston, there will be a slight logjam on the left side of the infield with Bogaerts and Middlebrooks competing for time at third.

Fortunately enough, the Red Sox are in a position to be patient.  Drew’s market has not been that hot as of late, and he remains a free agent.

If the Red Sox elect to go with the former option, they will be relying on a very young core of players, especially on the left side of the infield.  This facet is further described by Alex Speier of

Should Cherington re-sign Drew?

Marc Normandin of SB Nation does not think so.

Middlebrooks is likely the player who would suffer the most from Drew’s potential signing.  Normandin argues that Middlebrooks, at 25 years old, should receive at least a full year of everyday playing time.  This will at least give him the chance to showcase his potential.

If Middlebrooks flourishes, that puts Boston in a good position.  If not, the Red Sox could look towards having prospect Garin Cecchini eventually taking over at third.

Normandin writes:

This is true whether the Red Sox envision [Middlebrooks] as their third baseman of the future or not.  Giving him a full season in 2014 to show off what he can do—something he hasn’t had the chance to yet—could raise his stock enough that Boston could benefit from a huge trade in which they sell off his pop to the highest bidder, making room for Cecchini at third in 2015.  Having this option is something they can only do if Middlebrooks plays for the Sox in 2014, while Drew plays for someone else.

That is an interesting perspective to say the least.

In conclusion, the Red Sox appear to be in a much better position by letting Drew go than they would be if they re-signed him.  The fact that no deal has been made by this point suggests that Cherington is considering options outside of Drew’s services.

Status: Sell


Red Sox Interested in Left-Handed Pitcher Mark Mulder

According to a report from Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, veteran lefty Mark Mulder has drawn interest from the Red Sox, as he attempts to make a comeback in the majors.

Mulder has not pitched since 2008 after a shoulder injury ended his major league tenure.

The report, which was also listed by Al Melchior of CBS Sports, suggests that Boston might be interested in Mulder’s services to some regard.

Yet, the Red Sox already have a plethora of starting pitching, as well as young prospects in the folds, so signing Mulder makes little sense.

Cafardo also suggest that Boston will not likely make a deal.

Status: Sell


Boston Signing Japanese Right-Handed Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka

Let the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes begin.

Biddings from MLB teams on Tanaka‘s services began on December 26, per Drew Silva of NBC Sports.  The Cubs, Yankees, Angels and Diamondbacks were all reported to have interest in the same article.

Yet Cafardo also makes the claim that Boston should get in on the bidding.  He writes:

The 25-year-old Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander, who was 24-0 in the regular season in 2013, was posted and teams have begun to bid the new maximum $20 million fee.  The Red Sox are the least mentioned big-market team, but don’t be surprised if they quietly slip into this.  One American League scout suggested it’s the perfect time for the Red Sox to strike.

This is backed up by the fact that Boston has a number of pitchers with either one- or two-year deals left on their respective contracts—Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster and Jon Lester most notably.

Tanaka could easily slide in as a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter for a Red Sox rotation that could see some significant changes in the next couple of years.

Yet, there are plenty of problems with this potential deal.

First, would Cherington be weary of an expensive deal that could thwart Boston’s future much like the deal the team struck with Daisuke Matsuzaka some years ago?

That is a legitimate possibility.

In addition, there is an argument that the Red Sox’s priority should be upon signing Lester to a contract extension after his current contract expires at the end of 2014.

Doyle backs up this claim and also states that the Red Sox, who currently have a surplus of starting pitching, don’t need to make a sizable financial commitment to an unknown commodity.

This is true in a number of ways.  There is a surplus of starters already.  In addition, Boston has some talented prospects waiting to make debuts.

From that vantage point, signing Tanaka makes little sense.

Status: Sell

The Red Sox look poised to enter the 2014 season with the team they currently have on paper.

While there may be continued rumors and stories that surround Boston in future weeks and months, all signs point to Cherington and the Red Sox front office being content with what they have moving forward.

As indicated, the aforementioned rumors have been classified as “sellers” and should not be given much credence regarding whether or not a deal will take place.

This author could be wrong of course, but that has yet to be determined.


All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of unless otherwise indicated.  Contractual information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.


Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.


Read more MLB news on

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