The deal isn’t yet official, but it looks like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto are all Los Angeles bound in exchange for four minimum-salaried players and free-agent-to-be James Loney. That would cut $58.25 million in 2013 salaries from Boston’s payroll and leave the Red Sox committed to only four players for next season:
John Lackey: $15.25 million
Dustin Pedroia: $10 million
Jon Lester: $11.625 million
Clay Buchholz: $5.5 million
That’s just $42.375 million in commitments. Here are my guesses for what the arbitration-eligible players would make, with Ryan Sweeney getting non-tendered:
Jacoby Ellsbury: $10 million
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: $5 million
Andrew Bailey: $4.5 million
Alfredo Aceves: $2.4 million
Mike Aviles: $2.2 million
Craig Breslow: $2.2 million
Daniel Bard: $1.8 million
Franklin Morales: $1.8 million
Andrew Miller: $1.6 million
Rich Hill: $1 million
That’s another $32.5 million. Throw in the minimum salaries of the new acquisitions and guys like Will Middlebrooks, Felix Doubront and Mark Melancon and the Red Sox are essentially at $80 million with big question marks at first base, left field, right field and DH.
Theoretically, the Red Sox would already have five starters in Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Doubront and Morales. Rubby De La Rosa should be in the picture as well. However, in reality, they’d surely want a veteran to plug in at the top there. The bullpen should is pretty well stocked, though, with Bailey, Aceves, Bard, Melancon, Breslow, Morales, Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortensen, Pedro Beato and Hill all in the mix.
I doubt the Red Sox would want to tear things down any further this winter. They could make a strong effort to bring back David Ortiz to DH. First base would be a problem; aside from Nick Swisher, who will also be looked at as an outfielder, there won’t be much available in free agency. Ironically, the best option would be Kevin Youkilis. The Red Sox would probably have to go the trade route there.
With so much financial flexibility, the Red Sox would have to be viewed as big players for all of the top free agents this winter. It’s a weak crop, but names like Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew are available. They can offer Ellsbury a Crawford-like deal to prevent him from becoming a free agency after 2013.
Even if the Red Sox do land a Hamilton or Greinke, they’ll enter a season as underdogs for the first time in a long time. But that might not be such a bad thing. There’s still going to be plenty of talent around and money available for bold moves.