One of the few unequivocally good parts of this season has been the play of Cody Ross. For a one-year, $3 million deal, the Red Sox have gotten a lot of power (21 HR, .500 SLG), reasonable defense, and a good personality in the clubhouse.
With his deal coming to an end, Rob Bradford of WEEI spoke to him about his options. Surprisingly, he's OK with bypassing free agency.
“I’m absolutely open to talking and trying to get something done before the end of the year and before the exclusive period (where the Red Sox have sole negotiating rights until five days after the World Series),” Ross said, “but if I hit the free agent market I have to start listening.”
“Last year I wrote that down when my agent said, ‘Out of four or five things, what are the most important?’ It was role, No. 1. No. 2 was winning organization,” Ross remembered. “Three was AAV (annual average value) as far as the term and money. Location was another. For me No. 1 was the role. But No. 1 this season is probably going to be winning. I’m to that point where I want to win."
Interesting comments when you take them in tandem. If he's willing to bypass free agency for the right money to stay in Boston, and no. 1 is winning, not role, he must have confidence that the Red Sox can win next year -- and that's without even seeing the upgrades that will undoubtedly come in during the offseason.
We have a number of roles to fill: First base, short stop, left field, right field, and two starting pitcher spots after Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and John Lackey. That's a lot to do. If Cody takes up one of those spots, he must have confidence that the organization will make some pretty big moves -- or we'll see significant improvement from the young guys.
That said, I don't expect Ross to follow through on this -- I think he's just saying he likes it here and is open to staying. It's not common for players to bypass free agency when they get the chance.
It remains to be seen what kind of deal Ross could get. Many are speculating he'll be in the Michael Cuddyer/Josh Willingham range (three years, $24-30 million), but Ross doesn't really have the same track record as those guys. He's only hit more than 20 homers in a year twice before this year, his age 27 and 28 seasons in 2008 and 2009. He pretty much only hits fastballs (which begs the question: Why do pitchers ever throw them to him?). He's not a great defender. In fact, if you trust advanced defensive stats, his oWAR and dWAR combine to be 1.2, according to Baseball-Reference. The last few years in free agency it's been said that players are worth roughly $5-6 million (depending on which source you believe) per WAR, so by that measure Cody seems a stretch for a $30 million contract.
But he does keep things lose and doesn't seem fazed by bad circumstances. He seems like the kind of guy, personality-wise, who can thrive here. The last time we had a similar situation it was Adrian Beltre, and many regret not pulling the trigger on that deal. So, might he be worth more to Boston than he is to other teams?