The Mariners (who wanted to sign Napoli as a catcher), Mets, Yankees, White Sox and Dodgers, according to major league sources, are expected to be in the market for catchers. With Napoli and Ross now added to a roster that already featured Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway (as well as minor leaguers Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez on the 40-man), the Sox are positioned like virtually no other team to strike deals involving catching.
In all likelihood, the trade market for catchers will develop once free agent A.J. Pierzynski signs. He’s the top remaining catcher on the market. Behind him, the market features mostly backup types (Kelly Shoppach, Miguel Olivo, etc.). That being the case, once Pierzynski signs, the Sox expect that they’ll be able to see where the market stands for their catchers — most likely, Saltalamacchia or Lavarnway.
It's never a bad thing to have organizational strength in an important position, and that's exactly what the Red Sox have. Near-term, the Sox have the newly signed Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and David Ross. Napoli is of course mostly a first baseman for Boston, but should catch a bit. David Ross has been told to expect to play more than a backup, but less than a starter, and is a defensive specialist. Salty is Salty -- a stand-up guy, hard worker, home-run hitter, and possessor of many holes in his swing. Should all three remain with the team, you could envision a scenario where Salty plays 90 games, Ross 50, Napoli 22 (or thereabouts).
Long-term, they have Lavarnway -- still an option to return to Pawtucket, if you believe Cherington -- Butler, Vazquez, and Blake Swihart, the team's 8th-ranked prospects by SoxProspects, and a 2011 1st round pick. They're prepared for a day when Napoli is done behind the plate (probably sooner rather than later), Ross is gone, and Salty has cashed in elsewhere.
So they could afford to make a deal or two. The question is, of course, what players' values are.
Unless they can find a team with a catching need who is also a contender -- and it's too bad they play in the same division as the Yankees and Rays, because both would be good trade partners -- I think it's starting to look like Lavarnway would net a larger return than Salty. He's near-major-league-ready, has improved on the defensive end, and has produced reliably on offense in the minors. Plus, he's under control for six years. Of course, the Sox should feel no pressure to move him unless they can get a significant piece either to help the team this year, or to be part of the team's long-term plan. Since he can just go back to Pawtucket, it doesn't affect the organization that much to carry the glut of catchers, so if the return doesn't look good, there's no reason to panic.
Salty could be dealt, as I said, but to me it's harder to find a clear match. Many speculated the White Sox yesterday when a Chicago Tribune writer tweeted a Salty-for-Gavin Floyd rumor (which was hard to tell whether it was conjecture or actual reporting), and that could make some sense for both teams. Floyd's a consistent but underwhelming pitcher; Salty's a consistent but flawed catcher. With AJ Pierzynski likely leaving Chicago, such a deal makes some sense. I wouldn't be surprised for the Red Sox to aim a bit higher in their search for starting pitching, though. Salty also could be used to add more lower-level prospects and thus remove some pressure from the 40-man roster, enabling Boston to go after more free agents.
On page 2, the Mets and Red Sox talked about RA Dickey.
Alderson said his Monday agenda has been busy with meetings with potential suitors for 20-game winner R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer is under contract for next season at $5 million, but the Mets are serious about trading him this offseason if an extension cannot be reached.
The suitors include the Boston Red Sox, according to a baseball source. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and Alderson met Monday afternoon, with New York looking for outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Xander Boegarts in exchange for the Cy Young Award winner, the source said. However, it's unlikely the Red Sox would part with those top prospects.
The Mets met with eight teams Monday about Dickey, the source said.
ESPNBoston | Source: Red Sox eye RA Dickey
I don't think I have a font size large enough to write LOL to communicate how I feel about this.
Now, I know Dickey won the Cy Young. He was tremendous last year. I get why the Mets -- who need a lot -- are setting a high price.
But he's been good for two or three seasons, is a million years old, and is a knuckleballer. I wouldn't give up Bradley OR Bogaerts for him (or for almost anyone), much less both of them. The Red Sox need to keep their long-term plan intact, and Bradley and Bogaerts factor in pretty significantly to what they will be in a few years, when Dickey will likely have fizzled out.
Good luck fleecing another team, New York.
Globe | Napoli to Red Sox, Loney to Rays, A-Rod out | Red Sox may be looking to the left | Mike Napoli fills power need, but defense sacrificed | Stepping up to the plate | Herald | Red Sox finally make their first big splash in the pool | Four catchers now in the mix | Complete approach to hitting empowers Mike Napoli to produce | Jonny Gomes to be 'another Millar' | CSNNE | Defense taking back seat to offense, character during offseason | Sox hope new season brings new offensive approach | Sox lineup tilting too far right going into 2013 | Giving up top draft pick 'factor' in Swisher interest | Cherington: Sox could go into spring training with catcher surplus | ESPNBoston | Mike Napoli, Red Sox agree to deal | Josh Hamilton next for Red Sox? | Source: Don't count Sox out on Hamilton | Lackey helped lure Napoli to Boston