There are a few rumors floating around, regarding the Red Sox and their interest in Andrew Bailey. One of them is frightening, and makes no sense for Boston, while the other is palatable for the Sox, but possibly not enough for the A's. The winter meetings, everyone.
Starting with the fear: according to Peter Gammons, the A's are considering a Boston pitch for Andrew Bailey that includes Josh Reddick and prospects. With Ortiz coming back to Boston, this is a potential problem, given the Red Sox's limited budget for 2012. Going cheap in the outfield was part of what made trading for and extending Adrian Gonzalez work, as well as acquiring Carl Crawford. Ryan Kalish isn't quite ready for major league action yet, so it's Reddick, who faded down the stretch as he dealt with a ligament injury that was repaired this off-season, but overall had an above-average rookie campaign in right. (.280/.327/.457, with a .288 True Average and +6 runs defensively, according to Baseball Prospectus's Fielding Runs.) If this is Boston's offer, of course, they know this situation.
It has been rumored that one of those prospects is Will Middlebrooks, Boston's top positional prospect in the minors, and the future third baseman. With Kevin Youkilis down to the last year of his deal (besides a 2013 option), Middlebrooks can already see his path to the Red Sox. Boston doesn't have much in the way of top prospects at the upper levels, either, so it's Middlebrooks or finding a third baseman outside of the organization when the time comes. Like with Reddick in right, things become easier on the team with Middlebrooks in place at third.
This isn't to say that the Red Sox can't make this deal, or that it won't work, but it seems to run counter to a lot of what has been reported about their off-season plan and financial situation. It might be encouraging to know that Buster Olney's source on the matter says one of the prospects is not Will Middlebrooks, and that the talks are "not that far along."
The second rumor -- well, less of a rumor, and more a reminder from Alex Speier about last July -- is the one we should all be wishing for, as it involves prospects like Brandon Workman, Raul Alcantara, and Lars Anderson. The Anderson bit is one I'm not so sure of -- yes, the A's wanted him last year, but they also have something like 37 first basemen on their 40-man roster at the moment, and traded for yet another following the aborted Harden deal, to boot. Alcantara was a pitcher they were interested in last July as well, though. He is a 19-year-old Dominican righty that is currently a project, but with a lot of projection. It's expected he will fill out, adding velocity and durability, and if everything breaks the right way, become a mid-rotation starter. He is a long way off, though, especially for a team (like Boston) with holes to fill now.
Workman is likely a back-end starter by the time he gets to the majors (which would be sooner than Alcantara, but not soon) so those two alone wouldn't be enough for Billy Beane by any means. Bailey does have three years of team control left, though, meaning he's not necessarily a salary dump from Oakland -- they are just selling on a piece they won't need, in order to get ones they will eventually require.
We'll keep you posted on any progress (or the death of) these Bailey rumors, as well as the rest of the Sox-oriented meetings.
Update, 11:09 am: Alex Speier confirms Olney's source, saying Will Middlebrooks is not part of any rumored deal.