Why sign one or two of these guys when all three would fit?
Old news presented in a new way can change the meaning of that news considerably. For instance, if you've been following this off-season at all, you're likely aware that the Red Sox are interested in first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli, outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, and outfielder Cody Ross. The thought has been that Napoli or Swisher would solve the first base issue, and Ross could play right again, but only some combination of the two would work together. Swisher at first, Ross in right, or Swisher mostly in right with Napoli at first, except for on days where Napoli caught.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that Boston actually would like to have all three players if they can:
The Red Sox are in contact with all three players, and all are considered in play. The Red Sox seek a first baseman and two outfielders, and it appears this is their top triumvirate.
Napoli is likely to command a three- or four-year deal, Ross a two- or three-year deal and Swisher a four-year deal.
None of the three players would be expensive -- the largest of the deals would likely be around four years at $13 million per season or so -- and if they are all signed to the right contract length, none of the terms would be tough to swallow in terms of how much they restrict the future. The length to root for would be Swisher at four, Napoli at three, and Ross for two.
What would this give the Red Sox? Bryce Brentz and Ryan Kalish insurance, for now and later. A return to the plate discipline and patience that made Red Sox lineups so very good in the recent past. More specifically, it would give Boston a catcher to pair with David Ross, one who could also play first if necessary, and could slide in as designated hitter when David Ortiz's contract is up in two years. It would give them a first baseman for the next four seasons at what is assumed to be a reasonable price -- a difficult thing to manage in today's first base market -- one who can slot into right field during interleague play without it being an adventure as it was for Adrian Gonzalez. It would also give Boston another season of Ross and his Fantastic Fenway Adventures, wherein our hero utilizes the powers bestowed upon him by the Green Monster for all they are worth. And this time, he'd even have a sidekick in Jonny Gomes.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia would absolutely be traded were this to happen, but one of the teams looking for Napoli might be a willing partner there. This would also have implications for Ryan Lavarnway's future, but given the way he played in 2012, in both the majors and the minors, that future might not be now, anyway. (For the most pessimistic, it might not be ever behind the plate if he doesn't improve his play back there. Why do you think David Ross was signed, and the team is looking for yet another backstop still? Insurance.)
This wouldn't have to put an end to talk of a trade for Wil Myers, either, as Ross could easily slot in to left, with Gomes more of a bench outfielder and cheerleader making good money (that Boston has in spades) for the gig. And if a deal with the Royals doesn't happen -- and we should all be steeling ourselves for this very real possibility -- then at least Boston already has a set outfield, and would then just need to focus on improving the rotation. For the visual learners:
- Jacoby Ellsbury
- Dustin Pedroia
- Nick Swisher
- David Ortiz
- Mike Napoli
- Will Middlebrooks
- Cody Ross
- Jonny Gomes
- Jose Iglesias
Flee, lefties, while you can. And right-handers, you don't have it easy, either. Of course, there's a huge difference between what a team wants and talking to those players, and what they'll actually bring in. Boston has competition for this trio, but they also have the resources to bring in all three. If they are indeed chasing all three, next week's winter meetings could turn out to be something else.
For what it's worth, Napoli has been designated as Boston's top target, and Buster Olney reports that "friends of Cody Ross" believe Boston to be in the lead for his services. One assumes this means no one is offering Ross the three years he is seeking, so a return to familiarity at two years and the money he desires is leading the charge once more.