And we're off! The free agency deadline has passed, and the hot stove season has arrived. Looking for a Zack Greinke? Does a slightly used Dan Haren hold some appeal for you? They, and dozens of other players, are on the market and available to sign. It's not quite the same as having a ballgame every night, but this is the fun part of the winter right here.
Most of this week's writing looked ahead to that deadline, as we laid out priorities for the Red Sox and wondered who might best fit their needs. We wrapped up our Armchair GM series on Wednesday by letting you folks decide whose plan to rebuild the club looked best. And the winner by a narrow vote: Matt Kory, with his bold plan to snag outfielder/beast Giancarlo Stanton from Miami to become the latest mighty Sox left fielder. Hard to argue with that result.
The first major move of the offseason has already taken place, as the Red Sox agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract with franchise icon David Ortiz. We had all the coverage of the negotiations leading up to the deal, and it's great to see it done. This will keep Papi in town until he's 39, making it virtually certain he'll retire in a Boston uniform. It's a bit silly that we get as attached as we do to individual players, but if any player's earned that devotion, it's the big slugger.
Two names that kept cropping up in our GM pieces, and in speculative stories throughout the baseball world, were Dan Haren and Stephen Drew. Both men had options for 2013, but Oakland declined Drew's earlier in the week, and the Angels, after a bizarre situation last night in which they almost traded Haren straight-up for Carlos Marmol (Theo's still a ninja), declined Haren's right at the deadline. As we discussed earlier in the week, Haren's an interesting option for Boston. He's quietly been one of the best starters in baseball for the last few years, but was hampered by a back injury for most of 2012. While that makes him a risk, it also makes him a pretty ideal candidate for a one or two-year deal with a team willing to take a flyer. Like, say, Boston.
A priority for Boston this offseason will be filling the hole they suddenly find at first base following the Punto Trade. Matt Collins looked at the available (or potentially available) options to fill that hole this offseason, and found that the first base market, although low on star power, has a few interesting stopgap possibilities. Among those possibilities: old pal Kevin Youkilis, whose 2013 option was declined this week by Chicago.
Finally, as we enter the free agent waters, Matt Kory took a look back at Boston's last decade of long-term contracts. He found, and this will stun you all, that they're a mixed bag. Some long-term deals (Manny, Papi, Pedro) worked out beautifully. Some (Lugo, Lackey, Renteria) didn't. It's as though there isn't an ironclad rule that long-term deals are inherently bad or inherently good. That said, please, whichever low-level intern at the Sox front office happens to read this blog, if Ben Cherington starts to dial up Josh Hamilton's agent, tackle him and take the phone away. You'll get fired, but your sacrifice will be honored.
No Pats game this week (damned byes), but the C's are playing, the B's are...dammit. There's also an election in three days, I hear. Enjoy the weekend, all, and hope the hot stove cooks up some fun news.