We've got a lot of money to spend. I believe the payroll right now is around 75 million, and that's assuming we re-sign Papi. As GM I am totally against getting into long-term, big money contracts. I intend to be true to that while also making the most of the money and creating a dynamic roster. It's hard to tackle the whole roster all at once, so let's brainstorm some ideas, starting with the biggest problem on the team, the rotation. The biggest splash move we could do here without crippling the franchise would be trading for TIm Lincecum. If he's available then the time may be right for a deal. If he doesn't cost more than a decent major leaguer, a decent minor leaguer and the 22 million then I would make a deal. On the other hand, I'm not gonna give up more than that for one year of a guy coming off such a bad season. I would do Ciriaco and Sweeney, or Mauro Gomez and Breslow, or Alex Wilson and Stolmy Pimental or some combination therein.
That leaves our rotation as Lester, Lincecum, Buchholz, Doubront, De La Rosa to start the year, with depth guys galore (Lackey, Morales) behind them.
We also have a complete lack of players at the SS, 1B and LF positions. RF too, perhaps. The SS solution is easy: sign Stephen Drew. There's no way he's gonna be too expensive seeing as he's coming off two straight injured, bad years. Yet at the same time he's probably far better than our cheapo backup plan Jose Iglesias, who will take a utility role after Drew signs a 2 year/17 M dollar deal. Hard not to feel good about signing a Drew.
The outfield is a mess, but one with hope. Let's start with RF. First of all, I'm not totally in favor of re-signing Cody Ross. He's not much better than average, his bat often lets you down and my eyes don't see a very good defender out there. Ordinarily I'd be in favor of signing Ichiro for the job. He's a far better player than Ross now that he appears to actually not be done playing. But this year, this moment is not the right time to sign Ichiro, with all the baggage that comes with him, and his time with the Yankees really soured my perception of him. Let someone else overpay for his twilight years, and give 2 years/20 M to Ross. Cheapo backup plan: Kalish.
Now LF is where the real opportunity arises. As GM I would aggressively pursue Josh Hamilton, with full knowledge I have little chance of getting him. 2 years/45 M with a team option for 25 M is as high as I would go. I'm ok with the risk as long as it doesn't extend beyond that. A deal like this could help us capture a couple glorious years right away as we rebuild the franchise from the ground up. I would certainly at least present this to Hamiltons' agents. If he accepts that's great. Short-term, such high upside, it's something I can't pass on. But plan A here is Melky Cabrera on a one year 10 M dollar deal. If he doesn't feel he can reprove himself on pillow contract then he isn't worth it. If neither Hamilton or Cabrera works out then I would sign Nick Swisher for 3 years/36 M, undo the Ross signing and give cheapo Jerry Sands a shot in left.
1B is currently vacant as well, with many good options to fill it. But we also desperately need a catcher. Sign Mike Napoli to a 2 year/24 M dollar deal to play first and catch. Lavarnway will start the year at C and Napoli at 1st, but if it's true that Lava won't make it as a ML catcher, than he'll have to play more 1st base or be traded. At any rate, signing Napoli helps both the 1B and C situations, and allows us to trade Salty if we wish. Cheapo backup plan: Adam Laroche or Carlos Lee.
So let's go through the money and prospects I spent and the players I got:
Lincecum for prospects and 1 Y/22 M
Drew for 2 Y/17 M AAV of 8.5 M
Cody Ross for 2 Y/20 M AAV of 10 M
Melky Cabrera for 1 Y/10 M
Mike Napoli for 2 Y/24 M AAV of 12 M
Ortiz for 2 Y/26 M AAV or 13 M
That's 75 million in contracts for next season, 117 over the next two seasons. I don't see many big risks on this list, although there is moderate risk to be sure. It leaves us with a payroll of, if had to guess about 150 M. Pretty high, but with no long-term, big money contracts. This is a team built to win now and in the future, using its money on medium-risk, high reward deals. These deals bring all-star level talent to town for short periods of time until the prospects can take over.
I hope this doesn't end up sounding stupid after all the great ideas soon to come out. I can't wait to have people change my mind about stuff. I assume the biggest issue taken with this plan will be the free-spending ways. I hope you can see how this plan focuses on the right players at the right time and nothing more. Thanks for reading, and here's the 25 man roster for 2013:
SP Jon Lester
SP Tim Lincecum
SP Rubby De la Rosa
RP Rich Hill
1B Mike Napoli
SS Stephen Drew
RF Cody Ross
LF Melky Cabrera
Bench: Iglesias, DeJesus, Pierre, Sands