Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Early Look At The Offseason

There will be at least a few issues the Boston Red Sox need to address this off season and catching will be very close to the top.

Jason Varitek is having a very poor offensive season in 2008 which comes at a bad time for him, but a good time for Boston being that he's a free agent after the season.

There will be a price at which Boston will keep Varitek, whether Varitek will agree to return at that price is unknown.

In either case Boston will be having serious discussion for a top catching prospect this winter and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will likely be at the top of the list.

Boston can expect to pay a hefty price for Saltalamacchia if they do land him, probably costing them Justin Masterson as the top player in a package. Boston will probably check in on Salty get a general idea of what will be needed top obtain him and then compare that to others potentially available.

Who will be in Boston in 2009?
For pitchers we're looking at Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima.

Boston also holds options on Tim Wakefield ($4M) and Paul Byrd ($7.5M). Some may look above and think Okajima isn't likely to return, but his club option will become guaranteed with two more appearances at $1.75M.

The outfield is pretty much set unless Boston deals Coco Crisp this winter. Jason Bay, JD Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury round out the group.

On the infield decisions need to be made. Boston at this point can't justify starting Julio Lugo over Jed Lowrie that likely means Alex Cora will be done in Boston as Lugo and his un-tradeable contract will become a super utility player.

Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are all set to return.

We discussed catching above. I don't see any scenario where Varitek isn't back in 2009, his game calling is too valuable for Boston to let it walk. That said, if they can land a top catching prospect who has time at 1B too, Boston could consider carrying three catchers in 2009 giving Varitek more time off and still having Kevin Cash to catch Wakefield.

Under this scenario Varitek would likely catch for Lester and Buchholz while the new entry in town would catch for Matsuzaka and Beckett.

The reason for needing a catcher who can play first is that by carrying three catchers your taking about the roster spot that would go to a backup first baseman.