By Jeff Louderback
Considering that Josh Hamilton is one of the game’s most potent sluggers and provides an impact to the middle of the batting order, the Boston Red Sox should sign him to a generous contract, as long as the left-handed hitting outfielder does not require more than four years.
ESPN is reporting that the Red Sox are considering Nick Swisher if they are unable to land Hamilton. Of course, Swisher reportedly wants at least a five-year deal, and the Red Sox front office has been unwilling to sign anyone for the long term this offseason.
Swisher would be a useful addition, if he would accept three years. Ideally, though, signing Hamilton would prove more valuable for the Red Sox since he would give the club a dangerous heart of the order with David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Hamilton and Will Middlebrooks.
If the Red Sox sign Hamilton or Swisher, it would seemingly signal that they will trade Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason, unless they opt to platoon Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes in left field. Signing Hamilton or Swisher would also cost Boston its second round draft pick next summer, but with the contributions each player would add, it would be worthwhile.
Hamilton can play any outfield spot, though he would like start in right field and Victorino in center field. Swisher can play right field and first base, and since he is a switch-hitter he would be an ideal complement to the right-handed hitting Napoli at first.
As detailed on BoSox Banter earlier today, the Red Sox are comfortable with overpaying free agents this offseason because they have payroll flexibility and they believe it is worthwhile to give a higher salary in exchange for a short-term deal.