The Red Sox' offseason options: the less complicated, the better

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Ken Rosenthal’s latest column spends some time looking at what the Red Sox might do this offseason.  The biggest possibility — and its not clear if this is from a source with knowledge or if it was pulled out of Rosenthal’s, um, imagination — is that the Sox could forgo signing Adrian Beltre to an extension (he’ll likely reject his $10 million option), move Youkilis to third base, get a stop gap first baseman and then go after someone like Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, or maybe even Albert Pujols after 2011.

Which is nice, but that sounds a bit too much like the stuff fans say when they call into talk radio to me. I can’t say for certain how front office people think, but most of the well-run teams tend to act rather conservatively and pragmatically, don’t they? They realize that you can’t count on anything specific happening, especially with free agents, and thus they don’t make plans assuming good results in that regard two years down the road.

One of the few things that went right this year for the Sox was Adrian Beltre showing up every day, raking, and picking it like crazy at third base. Why wouldn’t the Sox try to re-sign him, and go with Youkilis at first base, taking 2011 before they think about 2012?

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.