The Red Sox are not necessarily finished constructing their outfield, according to major league sources. General manager Ben Cherington is considering the idea of trading center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for a starting pitcher, playing Victorino in center field, and signing another player for right field.
Cody Ross and Nick Swisher are among the free agent right fielders still available. The Sox, those same sources said, are telling free agents to remain available.
Cherington did not discount the idea of the Red Sox signing another outfielder.
“Wouldn’t rule out adding two outfielders to the mix,” he said at the Winter Meetings. “We’ll see what’s attainable.”
When asked specifically about Ross, Cherington did not cross off the incumbent right fielder as a possibility for next season.
Ah, yes, one of my favorite subjects. Trading Jacoby Ellsbury.
I've written on this in the past and have always been to some degree in favor of trading our centerfielder. I was a big proponent of it last offseason, when his value was, I believe, far too high. I don't think we'll ever see an MVP-caliber season from him again, but of course I could be wrong. I was less excited about the idea the last time I wrote about it, simply because of the lousy season he had from both a performance and health perspective.
Nothing has changed since last month in terms of our options beyond Ben Cherington adding veterans on short-term deals in the outfield. The pitching market also appears to be exorbitant, with everybody waiting on Zack Greinke to officially set the market, and then guys like Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, and Ryan Dempster in line to be overpaid behind him.
So if you're going to trade Jacoby now, it might be worth looking at acquiring some pitching. My favorite target entering the offseason was Josh Johnson, who I thought could be had for a relative bargain compared to his upside. Obviously, Toronto agreed with me.
Now, one of the more talked-about targets is Cliff Lee in Philadelphia (who Ted's Army's Ben Fountain is a big fan of). The Phillies have been beaten in their efforts to sign BJ Upton and Angel Pagan, and, barring an overpay of Michael Bourn, is looking at being pretty weak at the position, so they might be interested in Ellsbury. Such a move would give them a chance to unload a substantial contract: Lee is owed $75 million over the next three years, with a $27.5 million option ($12.5 million buyout per Cot's). Philly has committed long-term dollars to Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard, and might want to free up some money for extra pieces.
I've been against such a move when I've thought about it in the past, but it bears some consideration when you consider the market we're in. What if Greinke gets seven years, $165 million, as some are speculating? And then Sanchez gets five or six, at or approaching $100 million? Is an $87 million commitment to Lee -- a true front-of-the-rotation guy who has pitched in a variety of settings, including the postseason -- that exorbitant? Given the Red Sox' financial might, they are likely not to care about the money as much as the years, so this sort of contract appears to be something that might appeal to them more than most.
Obviously, this is all pure speculation. We don't know if Philly is interested in Ellsbury, nor what else would be involved (Would Boston have to kick in prospects? Would Philly kick in money?). We don't know Ellsbury's value. We don't know whether Philly would risk flipping one of its more stable players for somebody who is quite unstable and will not sign before becoming a free agent. But expect to hear that the two sides at least talk about it.
One page 2, the Red Sox were simply outbid for Dan Haren.
After word of starting pitcher Dan Haren's one-year deal with the Nationals started to spread Tuesday, a Red Sox source said the team liked the veteran right-hander but not enough to hand out the $13 million Washington was reportedly willing to give him.
“It was a simple case of money,” a Red Sox source said of the primary reason why the team steered clear of the 31-year-old. The source added that the Sox also had concerns about Haren’s health (he made 30 starts in 2012 but spent time on the disabled list with back issues) and drop in velocity last season.
ESPNBoston | Haren's price tag too high for Red Sox
I'm OK with them being outbid for Haren. While that type of contract is conceptually what they should be looking at, there is simply too much risk that Haren won't regain his velocity. If he doesn't, he'd be eaten alive in the AL East.
Globe | Manager John Farrell speaks about some Red Sox issues | Red Sox changing the face of their team | Victorino, Red Sox agree to $39 million, three-year deal | Herald | Shane Victorino adds fuel to Jacoby Ellsbury trade talks | Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be on block | Ben Cherington acts fast, but signings no sure thing | Shane Victorino gives Sox outfield flexibility | CSNNE | Short and sweet: Red Sox land Victorino, Napoli early on | Red Sox still need backup for Napoli at first base | Victorino deal most likely ends chance of Ross return | Red Sox could focus on 'slow' pitching market now | ESPNBoston | Character not enough for Red Sox | Cherington: Still looking for OF, 1B | Shane Victorino agrees to join Boston