Rob Bradford has unearthed Cody Ross' priority entering free agency: winning.
In a recent interview, Ross told Bradford that, where last year his role was the top consideration and winning came second, heading into free agency in 2013, he wants to win.
"Last year I wrote that down when my agent said, ‘Out of four or five things, what are the most important?' It was role, No. 1. No. 2 was winning organization," Ross remembered. "Three was AAV (annual average value) as far as the term and money. Location was another. For me No. 1 was the role. But No. 1 this season is probably going to be winning. I'm to that point where I want to win. I can't see myself going and signing where I'm not going to win."
So he says...
If winning really is first and foremost in Cody's mind, then for the Sox to hold onto him they'll have to prove their intentions. That shouldn't mean going too far out of their way if we're lucky--ideally the team will be spending all of their available money, just on short-term contracts in order to tide them over and make them playoff contenders even while waiting for the huge minor league crop to come up and a better free agent market to emerge.
The question is whether Cody really puts all of this before money. Consider this later bit:
"If I'm going to play, and play every day, and play in a fair park, this is me. This is what you're going to get. This isn't a great year, but it's me and I could potentially have a career-type of year, but I'm back to being me. That's the one thing I want to stress, to let people know I've done this before."
Maybe that's Cody Ross putting himself out there as a starting outfielder for a contender. Or maybe it's Cody Ross trying to drum up its market so it reflects favorably compared to certain other outfielders.
Most Sox fans seem to want Ross back quite a bit, but at what price? The assumption has been that he would be relatively cheap, with a market diminished by the assumption that Cody Ross is Cody Ross in part because of the Monster in left field.
The Sox have money to spend. They have the money to spend to convince players they want to win, and the money to spend to overpay Cody Ross some if he doesn't expect a lengthy deal. What they don't have is money enough to offer up big money, multi-year deals that might be offered to a typical .850 OPS outfielder. If he's looking to one-up Michael Cuddyer, the Red Sox might have to just move on.