You are Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
You have recently completed a trade, pending approval from commissioner Bud Selig, that sends veteran third baseman Mike Lowell to the Texas Rangers in return for catching prospect Max Ramirez. You now find yourself with yet another void to fill, this time at the "hot corner." Your arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, have just acquired the multi-talented center fielder Curtis Granderson and are linked in discussions for one of the most talented pitchers in all of baseball, Roy Halladay. Fans are growing impatient with every deal made at the winter meetings that doesn't involve you, and opportunities to patch your teams weaknesses are growing slim. What do you do?
- Sign Adrian Beltre as Mike Lowell's successor (go to bullet point A)
- Package some of your prospects and pry Adrian Gonzalez away from San Diego (go to bullet point B)
- Package a few prospects and steal Miguel Cabrera away from Detroit (go to bullet point C)
- Sit idly by and hope that everything works out on its own (go to bullet point D)
A. Ah, you have chosen to sign former Seattle Mariner Adrian Beltre. You have replaced one former Gold Glove Award recipient with another at the third base position. Last season, despite being sidelined for approximately six weeks, your new addition put up respectable numbers. The 30 year old still has some seasons left in him, and assuming you signed him to a Scutaro-type contract, you're only going to need him for a brief bridging period. You likely paid a rather high price for the free agent that has been linked to several other suitors, but you got your corner infield spots addressed. Aside from Beltre's suspicious 2004 season (not even going to go there), your new 3B seems like a safe bet to produce Lowell-like offensive numbers and provide a slight upgrade on the defensive side of the ball from the often-injured Lowell. You decided to steer clear of that blockbuster move, but you've made a wise and safe choice nonetheless, Theo.
B. Congratulations! You have just acquired one of the most prominent left-handed bats in all of baseball, Adrian Gonzalez. Your new 27 year old first baseman forces you to move Kevin Youkilis over to third base, but you now have Gold Glovers literally littering your infield. Fielding prowess aside, Gonzalez gives you a powerful left-handed bat that you can build your lineup around for years to come. Coming off of a career year at the plate, your new trade acquisition fills your need for both a corner infielder as well as a power hitter. The guy's defense makes your pitching staff better and his bat positively influences all of those around him in the lineup. You didn't just upgrade your first base position, you made your whole team better. Bold, smart, and you've made a strong statement to your fans and team that 2010 isn't going to be a conservative effort.
C. Great move. You have taken advantage of a few recent occurrences and snagged Miguel Cabrera away from the Detroit Tigers. After the Tigers dumped both Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson, you knew Cabrera was available. Everyone has their price, and after Detroit acquired a slew of highly touted prospects in the deal with New York and Arizona, Cabrera's asking price went down a bit as Detroit became relatively content with their farm system. Sure, you had to take Dontrelle Willis off their hands as part of the deal, but you find joy in taking players and attempting to re-mold them, especially pitchers. In Miguel, you received a player who reminds most of Manny Ramirez in his prime, both on and off the field. However, you decided to take the good with the bad, and ride this guy in the middle of your order for many years. Nobody doubts Cabrera's talent or work ethic, they're both Hall-of-Fame caliber, if you can only avoid any off the field transgressions. Succeed in that, and you have made potentially the biggest splash of the off-season. You're team is again feared, and your fans are more than content. Your job is done here.
D. You have decided to do nothing. 2010 is going to be a bumpy ride, one that will be filled with many unhappy, I told you so fans. You had better hope that 2011 free agent class that you've been day-dreaming about treats you better than the one that preceded it.