Top 5 Players The Red Sox Could Target To Play Left Field

Yesterday, we all had an up-and-down day. We awoke with Adrian Gonzalez still being traded to the Red Sox. Hours later, when they couldn't reach an extension, the trade was dead in the water and Gonzalez on his way back to he west coast. Of course, a few hours later it turned out Gonzalez was not on a plane back to San Diego, but that he was in Boston ready to finalize the trade and pick up his Red Sox paraphernalia.

All of this madness kicked off the 2010 Winter Meetings early for Theo Epstein and the rest of the Red Sox organization, making probably the biggest splash of the offseason yet.  Now that Gonzalez is on board, though, the team still has to fill the gap in left field, a need that could be addressed during these meetings.

A few days ago, all signs pointed that outfielder Jayson Werth was going to end up signing with the Red Sox.  However, that is no longer an option as the outfielder and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a 7-year 126 million dollar contract.  Although it is quite ridiculous the Nats signed the 31-year old Werth for 7 years, they still were able to steal him away from the Red Sox, eliminating their number one remaining target.

Also, earlier this morning, Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reported that the Diamondbacks have decided not to shop outfielder Justin Upton around.  Although the Red Sox probably would not have had the prospects (with the Gonzo trade) to pull off a trade like this, it eliminates another top choice that Theo and company had been targeting.

With Werth and Upton off the market, here are the new top-5 players the Red Sox could target to fill the void in left field:

Carl Crawford

When Jayson Werth was rewarded heavily (and I mean heavily) by the Nationals with a 7-year contract, Crawford's stock went way up, possibly off the charts.

Crawford could now possibly looking at an 8-10 year deal for 20+ million dollars per season--a price the Red Sox wouldn't pay for Adrian Gonzalez (at least not yet).

Getting Crawford will be very, very difficult as the Angels, Tigers, Rangers, and Yankees have expressed interest him as well.  The Angels are currently viewed as the favorite to sign Crawford, with the Red Sox probably second on the list. 

With Adrian Beltre (a known target of the Angels) on the market and the Yankees possibly getting too pre-occupied with Cliff Lee, the Red Sox could come in and sweep up Crawford if they decided they want to pay the price for it.

With Gonzalez and Crawford on board, the Red Sox lineup would become predominantly left-handed, and therefore one-sided.

Crawford is clearly the best outfielder and possibly the best overall player on the market right now, and has been classified as a "game changer" by Terry Francona.  Crawford is very appealing in the eyes of the Red Sox, but it will be very tough to place the best bid.

Josh Willingham

With Jayson Werth being brought in, the Nationals have said that they will likely trade outfielder Josh Willingham this offseason, in hopes that first overall pick Bryce Harper will take the duties in right field down the road with Werth sliding to left field. 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Josh Willingham 114 370 54 99 19 2 16 56 67 85 8 0 .268 .389 .459

Willingham put up solid numbers in 2010. He only managed a .268 average with 16 home runs and 56 RBI in 114 games, but also managed a very strong on-base percentage.  I also give Willingham props because he has produced on a very bad team for the last two years.

The Red Sox would likely be able to swing a deal for Willingham without giving up any of their top prospects, which would work within Theo Epstein's system. 

The upside I see in Willingham is that he has shown promise as a power hitter in the 2009 season, hitting 24 home runs.  Willingham would likely hit number 6 in a possible Red Sox lineup.  Although he doesn't drive in a lot of runs, Willingham won't be hitting cleanup as he did for the Nationals last year so he won't have as much pressure to drive in as many (maybe 60+).

Willingham would be a good fit in Boston as he would provide veteran leadership and a right-handed power threat in the number 6 spot in an already strong Red Sox lineup.  He is only an average defender in left field, but would fit just fine in left field at Fenway Park.

Magglio Ordonez

Another veteran outfielder that the Red Sox could think about is former Tiger Magglio Ordonez.

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Magglio Ordonez 84 323 56 98 17 1 12 59 40 38 1 0 .303 .378 .474

Ordonez, 37, only played 84 games with Detroit last year as his season was cut short due to injury.  However while he was healthy, he was able to hit .303 and drive in 59 runs in only half a season. 

While Ordonez is a Type-A free agent, he was not offered arbitration, which means that any team that signs him would not have to give up any draft picks to the Detroit Tigers.

Ordonez has hit at least 20 home runs and 100 RBI during the 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons with the Tigers while playing at least 145 games during each season, and was a 2.5 WAR player last year in limited action.  He would likely play left field in Fenway Park as he isn't a good defender and has recorded often disastrous Rfield ratings over his career.

Ordonez could be a good fit, if the Red Sox are able to sign the 37-year old outfielder to a short-term deal.  This might be difficult as he is represented by Scott Boras.  However, with Ordonez coming off injury, his price may come down.

With Werth off the market and Crawford likely out of the picture, the Tigers have expressed the most interest in re-signing the 37-year old to hit in the middle of the order.

Ryan Kalish/Mike Cameron

The Red Sox could just settle with what they have and play either Mike Cameron or Ryan Kalish in left field without having to spend the extra money on another outfielder.

Kalish showed promise in 2010 as he was brought up to the majors due to injuries in the outfield.   He put up great numbers in his first season in the big leagues.

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Ryan Kalish 53 163 26 41 11 1 4 24 12 38 10 1 .252 .305 .405

Kalish was limited in his time in the outfield as he only played 53 games in 2010.  Kalish hasn't brought his power hitting to the MLB yet, however he is a great defender and would be a solid 8-or-9 hitter in a Red Sox lineup.

The Red Sox could also choose to give veteran Mike Cameron, whom they signed to a 2-year deal last offseason another chance, but this time in left field.

Cameron's 2010 season was limited as he battled groin and abdominal problems all season long.  Even when he was active, Cameron would only be able to play about every other day as the injuries lingered throughout the season. 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Mike Cameron 48 162 24 42 11 0 4 15 14 44 0 1 .259 .328 .401

Cameron was singed last season to play center field, and to provide some offense as he did hit 24 home runs and drive in 70 RBI in 2009 when he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Cameron, who will be 38 in January could be a good option for the Red Sox in left field as when healthy, he could provide a line of .265/.350/.460, which isn't great but not at all bad for his age. Cameron is especially good against lefties, too, with a career .866 OPS facing southpaws.

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