The hot-stove season is less than a month underway, but the Boston Red Sox have wasted no time stealing plenty of headlines.

The Sox figured to be active players in the market this year, and the early rumors surrounding the team haven’t disappointed. They’ve been linked to many of the most prominent free agents and players available on the trade market and seem serious about rebuilding for 2015.

Keep in mind that the offseason rumor mill is an industry unto itself, and that many of the rumors you hear will be contradicted by additional reports just hours after they hit Twitter, or whatever resource you use. That being said, reports as to what the Red Sox have been up to so far are instructive in terms of letting us know what the team is planning and how they operate under Ben Cherington.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three biggest rumors associated with the Red Sox over the past few days and weigh the pros and cons of each deal being considered.


Red Sox Offer Six-Year, $110-120 Million to Jon Lester

According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Red Sox are legitimately pursuing Lester, offering the type of six-year contract that should at least bring the left-hander back to the table. Given that the Sox offered Lester a four-year, $70 million extension last spring, the team is clearly willing to spend more now to land its former ace.



The pros here are pretty obvious: The Red Sox need a top-of-the-rotation starter, and many fans and analysts alike are united in the belief that Lester should represent Boston’s top free-agent target.

Yes, $19-20 million a year is expensive, but that’s what pitchers of Lester’s caliber cost nowadays, and that’s on the low end of the spectrum. While investing in any pitcher is a scary proposition, Lester has the track record of health, performance and character you want to bet on.

According to Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus (subscription required), Lester projects as a top-end starter for the next three-to-four seasons. The Red Sox can live with whatever comes on the back end of the deal if Lester is truly that dominant through 2018.



The only real con here is the overall poor track record for long deals for pitchers in their 30s. Plus, adding Lester for $20-plus million per season will take a nice chunk out of the financial flexibility the Sox have built for themselves.

But assuming that acquiring Lester would indeed be a good thing, the real “con” associated with this offer is that it probably won’t be enough. ESPN Insider Jim Bowden (subscription required) predicted that Lester will receive offers in the six-year, $138 million range, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman even threw out a possible $189 million asking price for Lester.

That last number seems a bit crazy, and it’s hard to see a team truly going to those lengths for Lester. There’s no doubt that $110-120 million seems a bit low, though, and if that’s the Red Sox’s final offer, it would be surprising to see a Lester reunion this winter.

The good news, per’s Rob Bradford, is that the Red Sox are apparently willing to continue to negotiate. Plus, Lester’s agent, Sam Levinson, told that the Sox “showed great respect” to Lester through their recent offer.

Red Sox Make (or Prepare to Make) Offer to Pablo Sandoval

This situation is a bit less clear than Lester’s, as we’ve seen conflicting reports as to weather Sandoval has actually received an offer from the Red Sox to this point. Sean McAdam of maintained early yesterday that the Sox were still waiting to get an offer out to Sandoval, while Cafardo stated that an offer’s already been made.

Either way, Sandoval was in Boston on Tuesday, and the Red Sox’s interest appears to be quite legitimate.



Sandoval would represent a massive upgrade over anything the Red Sox have had at third base for the past two seasons. He’s a good defender at this point in his career, brings a contact-heavy approach that the Red Sox lack and is an obscene postseason performer.

Adding Sandoval’s switch-hitting bat to, say, the fifth or sixth spot in the lineup would break up Boston’s litany of right-handed pitchers and would add depth and reliability to an offense that’s likely going to rely on four unproven players: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez.

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about giving Sandoval a long-term deal, but there’s no way to argue that he wouldn’t make the 2015 Red Sox much better.


Cons’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Sandoval had discussed deals in the five-year, $90 million range with both the Red Sox and Giants. The money involved is fairly reasonable at that level, but it’s understandable why some won’t want to give Sandoval a five-year deal.

On Wednesday, the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson gave a phenomenal breakdown of the assumptions many make about Sandoval, and his conclusions give reason for pause when you think about Sandoval in, say, 2018 and beyond.

Most notably, MacPherson shows that if Sandoval has to move to DH in a few years, he’ll actually be a below-average offensive player. Further, he notes that Sandoval is really better as a down-the-order bat than a true middle-of-the-order impact hitter.

Still, MacPherson also rejects the notion that Sandoval’s weight is destined to hurt his career later on, and cites a five-year, $90 million deal as reasonable in today’s economic climate.


Red Sox Among Favorites for Yoan Moncada

On Tuesday, Baseball America’s Ben Badler broke down the market for Moncada, a star Cuban infielder/outfielder who could be cleared to sign with a major league organization fairly soon. Badler included the Red Sox among the eight teams he listed as most likely to make a play for the 19-year-old’s services, though the details as to when Moncada will even be allowed to sign are sketchy.



What’s not to like about a 19-year-old stud prospect who Badler writes has more upside than Castillo or Yasmani Tomas? Moncada would be a prospect more in the Jorge Soler mold in that he’d need some MiLB seasoning before making it to the majors. But the Cubs should be pretty happy with Soler right now, and if Moncada can also play the infield, it would add tremendously to his value.

Plus, as Badler notes, because the Red Sox have already blown past their international spending allowance by grabbing Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta, they’re really not further penalized by doubling down and making a play for Moncada too.

Don’t worry about where Moncada would play or who at the MLB level could potentially block him; too much talent is never a bad thing. It would be great for the Red Sox to acquire Moncada and figure out where he fits in their long-term plans later.



None, really. The biggest con I can think of is that Moncada isn’t a No. 1 MLB starter who’s ready to pitch right now, as that’s Boston’s biggest need. But given that the Sox can’t be penalized more and can always use more prospects, signing Moncada would be a coup.

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