The Boston Red Sox posted their worst record since the 1960s this past season, going an abysmal 69-93. Now that the team has a new manager in place, it's time to turn to the free agent market, starting with their own free agents.
The Red Sox have only six unrestricted free agents this offseason, and two of them definitely should be back in 2013.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, originally brought over from Japan for a six-year deal at $52 million, has most likely thrown his last pitch for the Red Sox, and it couldn't have come sooner. Although he helped the Sox win the World Series in 2007, Dice-K wasn't the same pitcher after the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and he sat out much of the 2011 and 2012 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. Last year, he went 1-7 with an ERA over 8.00. He's damaged goods at this point, and the Sox should let him go.
Aaron Cook was only with the Red Sox for one year, getting picked up off the scrap heap from the Colorado Rockies after struggling with injuries the past two seasons. He failed to make the most of a one-year deal, finishing the year 4-11 with a 5.65 ERA. Definitely nothing to get excited about. But Cook showed flashes of brilliance, including one out of only two Red Sox shutouts on the year. If the price is right (the Sox only paid him $1.5 million last year), I could see him back next year in the bullpen.
Vincente Padilla had a pretty good year out of the bullpen, posting a 4-1 record and 4.50 ERA. There's just one problem: his age. Padilla is 34, and his best years are definitely behind him. Like Cook, if the price is right, having him back in the bullpen would be fine. And like Cook, he earned $1.5 million last year, a good deal for a quality reliever. The Red Sox should try to get it done, but no one will cry if he walks.
Cody Ross was a great free agent signing last offseason. Signed to a single-year contract, Ross batted .267 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs in his first season in Boston, not bad considering he missed a month with a broken foot. Ross is open to staying with the team, and the Sox should bring him back. He would add some stability to the outfield and if he stays healthy, he could break 100 RBIs.
First baseman James Loney, thrown in as part of the mega trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Becket and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers, is not likely to be back in Boston, nor should he be. Loney posted his worst year as a major-leaguer, hitting only .249 for the season, and .230 in 30 games for the Red Sox. They've got to be able to do better than that.
David Ortiz is one of the undisputed leaders of the team, and if Big Papi isn't back in a Red Sox uniform next season, the Fenway faithful may revolt. Papi has been complaining about a multi-year deal for some time now and if rumors are true, he's going to get it in the form of two years and $25 million. And the Red Sox should do it. Big Papi is one of the most beloved athletes in Boston sports history. No one wants to see him wearing a different uniform. It almost doesn't matter how he hits, but since he hit .318 with 23 HRs, that's not really a question. Get it done.
Micah is a native Bostonian and long-time fan of all things Boston sports.
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