By Jeff Louderback
This will be one of the most active and important off-seasons in recent history for the Boston Red Sox. There will be a new manager. Likely, most of the coaching staff will be revamped. The team will try to bring back potential free agents David Ortiz and Cody Ross, and general manager Ben Cherington has included finding a left fielder, a first baseman and a frontline starting pitcher on this “things to do” list.
Here are assorted notes about what is already happening and what could occur in the Red Sox organization during the Hot Stove League:
- Since Jose Iglesias hit just .118 in 68 at-bats with the Red Sox and is still just 22, he will probably open the 2013 season as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Pawtucket so he can continue to work on his hitting techniques. That means Mike Aviles will likely return to the Red Sox Major League roster in 2013. Aviles, who will be 32 next March, played above average defense at shortstop and had 13 home runs and 60 RBI in 545 plate appearances. With Pedro Ciriaco also set to return, the Red Sox will have two players who are versatile and can provide ample production from the shortstop position until it is deemed that Iglesias or uber prospect Xander Bogaerts is Major League ready.
- One move that could make Aviles expendable is if the Red Sox acquire soon-to-be 28-year-old shortstop Troy Tulowitzski from Colorado. Tulowitzski is signed long term and will receive $10 million in 2013, $16 million in 2014, $20 million from 20015 to 2019 and $14 million in 2020 before a $15 million team option arises in 2021. Acquiring him would cost a bundle in prospects and it would be risky since he was hampered with a groin injury in 2012, and those injuries tend to linger. Yet Tulowitzski does represent the middle of the order slugger Boston needs to bring in to replace Adrian Gonzalez. of course, it would also make sense to find a slugger at another spot since Bogaerts has a chance to be everything that Tulowitzki is and more.
- Don’t forget Anthony Ranaudo as one of the organization’s top starting pitching prospects. It was a disappointing and injury-plagued 2012 season for the 23-year-old right-hander who was a first round pick out of LSU in 2010. He posted a 6.69 ERA and made just nine starts this season, all at Double-A Portland. Ranaudo will pitch for Caguas in the Puerto Rico Winter League and attempt to regain his top prospect status next season, when he will likely rejoin the Portland rotation.
- The Red Sox have the aforementioned need for a middle of the order bat to replace Gonzalez and a frontline starting pitcher. One could be addressed via free agency, but at least one need will likely be filled via trade since the club is looking for high-impact talent that is still young and under team control. With this in mind, Red Sox top prospects could be used as trade chips. Though Boston will not be dealing Bogaerts or center fielder Jackie Bradley since both players are part of the team’s long-term plans, outfielders Bryce Brentz, Brandon Jacobs and Keury De La Cruz; third baseman Garin Cecchini, starting pitchers Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Henry Owens and Rubby De La Rosa; catcher Blake Swihart and shortstop Jose Vinicio are among the organization’s promising prospects who could be packaged in deals.