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Re-Dissecting The Red Sox Outfield Search

Over the last couple of days, there have been a number of names that have been connected to the Boston Red Sox as they continue to search for an outfielder who hits left handed pitching well.

With a heavily left-handed order now that  Adrian Gonzalez is in the fold for the Red Sox, GM Theo Epstein has said he would like to add a right-handed "complementary" bat to a team with left-handers Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, and Ryan Kalish already potentially patrolling the outfield.

The outfield market seemed very clear for the Red Sox last week with Jayson Werth on the market.  The Red Sox were viewed as the heavy favorites for Werth about a week ago, but he signed a 7-year, 126 million dollar contract with the Nationals this week, taking him off the market and forcing the Red Sox to shift course

The main names that have been tossed around during the Winter Meetings this week have been Josh Willingham (via trade), Magglio Ordonez (free agent), Carlos Beltran (via trade), Matt Diaz (free agent). Even Carl Crawford (heavily priced free agent) is still being considered.

Here is a quick summary about how possible each option may be for the Red Sox:

(After the jump) 

Josh Willingham

Willingham was placed on the trading block nearly the minute after the Nats signed Werth.  The Nationals have decided they will shop the soon to be 32-year-old with first round pick Bryce Harper waiting in the wings.

The Nationals are not going to give up Willingham easily, however, as their asking price for him has been classified as "absurd" by many teams.  The Red Sox have checked in on him, but they are not willing to give up more of their top-tier prospects after giving two (arguably three) of them up to acquire Adrian Gonzalez, a more established and overall superior player to Willingham.

Willingham would fit very nicely into the Red Sox lineup as he has played nearly his entire career in left field and is an alright defender, which is the kind of player the Red Sox have shifted towards since losing gloveless wonders Jason Bay and Manny Ramirez.

Willingham swings a good stick, as he has shown in his career he can give a team 20+ home runs and 80+ RBI.  Willingham does not hit for average as he has only recorded a career-high .277 in Florida in his second full season, but he has made up for that in the past with a willingness to walk.

Other teams such as the Orioles, Athletics, and Tigers have checked in on Willingham, and like the Red Sox, they are scared of the price the Nationals are asking for him.  They reportedly are interested in Felix Doubront, whom the Red Sox are not looking to trade.

With Washington remaining persistent on their price, the Red Sox may choose to move on and look for other options, possibly less costly ones.

Magglio Ordonez

A guy that I tossed around in my Top 5 piece yesterday, as he would be an ideal fit into the Boston lineup.  He is a right-handed bat that would fit in very well in Fenway Park as the Red Sox' left fielder.

The Red Sox have recently expressed interest in the outfielder as that complementary right-handed bat they are searching for.  Ordonez would ideally fit right into the number 6 hole in the Red Sox lineup as he has the ability to drive in a lot of runs, much like Werth.

However, the Detroit Tigers remain the favorites to sign the outfielder as they hope for him to return as their right fielder in 2011.  The Tigers have been keeping close tabs on Ordonez as they monitor the Carl Crawford sweepstakes.

Ordonez' preference is to return to Detroit as he and the Tigers are reportedly discussing a 2-year deal according to NESN's Peter Gammons.  The Tigers would like to retain Ordonez to complete their 3-5 lineup spots with Miguel Cabrera and the newly signed Victor Martinez.

While Ordonez would be a good 1-year option for the Red Sox, the Tigers appear to remain the most interested and the only team willing to offer a 2-year deal, which goes a long way for the 37-year old Ordonez and agent Scott Boras.

Carlos Beltran

The newest guy on the Red Sox radar, Carlos Beltran has been the talk of the day.  The Red Sox are reportedly discussing the idea of bringing the switch-hitting outfielder over to Boston from the Mets.

Beltran would be also be a great option for the Red Sox and he could easily be the team's primary left fielder at age 33, having killed left handed pitching over the course of his career.  Beltran has been nagged by injuries in his last two years as he was held to a career-low 61 games last year after he had knee surgery. 

This would be an intriguing trade as he only has one year left on the seven-year deal he signed with the Mets in 2005.  Beltran is due an ugly 18.5 million dollars in 2011.  However, because of the strained relationship between the Mets and Beltran, they are looking to move him with new management and would likely take on at least half of Beltran's salary in a trade.

According to Gammons, the Red Sox are in conversations with the Mets, however they do remain hesistant to trade Daisuke Matsuzaka or Marco Scutaro, both players the Mets have been interested in.  Beltran has had the most success in his career compared to Willingham and Ordonez as he is a 4-time All-Star and 3-time Gold Glover.

Matt Diaz 

Here is a guy that I've had a hard time trying to hype myself up about.  This guy was non-tendered by the Braves earlier this offseason, and battled injury last season as he was limited to 63 games.  In 2010, Diaz hit just  .250 with seven home runs and 31 RBI. 

Diaz has had success over his career with the Braves as he hit .313 with 13 home runs and 58 RBI in 2009, and could be this "complementary" right handed bat Theo Epstein is looking to add.  Diaz also fits the bill in that he has killed left-handed pitching over his career with the Braves and served in a platoon last season with Melky Cabrera, starting when there was a left-handed pitcher on the mound.

The Red Sox are reportedly one of the finalists for Diaz as he has attracted a lot of interest among other teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers, Royals, Mariners, and Blue Jays.  Diaz is probably the cheapest option on this list as he isn't an everyday player be any means. Diaz is set to choose his new team in the near future.

Carl Crawford

Even though the Red Sox are looking more into acquiring a right-handed bat, the team has reportedly "not ruled out anything" and is "still very much in on [Carl Crawford]" according to ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes.

Crawford's price probably went way up when Jayson Werth signed a 7-year deal with the Nationals as the 29-year old could now be looking in the neighborhood of an 8-10 year deal, earning about 20-25 million per season.

It seemed unlikely that the Red Sox were still in on Crawford after they acquired Adrian Gonzalez on Monday, likely committing to a 7-year deal worth about 22 million per season.  This would likely put Crawford out of the price range of the Red Sox, but Epstein still isn't ruling out anything.

Crawford has drawn significant interest from the Angels, whom remain the favorite to sign him.  The Yankees have also expressed interest in Crawford and view him as a back-up plan if their pursuit of Cliff Lee falls short. 

Even though the Red Sox are leaving the door open for Crawford, I still think that they are likely to be considered out of the Crawford sweepstakes with the Angels and Yankees having more to spend.