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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sox need to step it up to start winning season

Cole+Hamels+is+a+top+target+for+the+Red+Sox+this+offseason
Cole Hamels is a top target for the Red Sox this offseason

The Boston Red Sox made some major splashes early in free agency. The team from Beantown signed two of the top offensive threats on the market and filled some holes in the lineup. Former Red Sox player Hanley Ramirez agreed to a four year contract worth $88 million. To add to this, the team signed former Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval to a five year deal worth about $95 million. These guys can tear the cover off the ball and will really make a difference in the lineup. However, General Manager Ben Cherington needs to add a lot more than just power hitting to have a turnaround season.
By this time, many baseball fans are most likely aware that Jon Lester is looking to choose from a few teams. The top four teams interested in Lester seem to be the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, and the Red Sox. The Cubs would be a good potential spot for Lester, as his former general manager Theo Epstein is there. According to multiple reports, the Cubs offer is in the six year, $138 million range. The Giants would also be a good fit seeing as they have won three World Series in the past five years. Not to mention Lester would be pitching with the World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. The numbers on a potential offer from the Giants are unknown.
That leaves the Sox — the team with whom Lester started his career and thrived under pressure. According to reports, the Red Sox have offered Lester a six year contract in the $130 million range. Lester’s decision will have a great impact on what the Red Sox do in free agency.
The bullpen looks pretty solid with guys like Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, who the Red Sox just re-signed. Bringing Andrew Miller back did not happen, but it was not of utmost importance. The priority for this team has to be starting pitchers.
It would be ideal for the Red Sox to acquire two top tier pitchers to lead their rotation. If Lester chooses not to sign with the team, then Cherington must have a backup plan. There are a few possibilities that could be looked into. Cole Hamels is one name who comes up in trade discussions. He is under contract with the Phillies but the right amount of prospects could be a deal breaker. Another name thrown out there is Johnny Cueto. He has one year left on his deal with the Reds and could be a nice rental for the season. Free agent James Shields and Reds’ pitcher Mat Latos are also names that have been tossed out there. There’s plenty of great pitching to choose from, but here’s an ideal scenario for the Red Sox that is very possible.
If Lester signs:
Trade a package deal of Yoennis Cespedes and Allen Craig for Reds’ pitcher Mat Latos. The Sox may have to add another player in this deal such as Daniel Nava or a prospect, but Latos would be a great number two behind Lester.
If Lester does not sign:
Package a group of top prospects to trade for Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. This would be assuming the Red Sox cannot sign another top free agent pitcher. They would have to throw in prospects like Mookie Betts or perhaps stud pitching prospect Henry Owens in order to receive one of these players. Even players like Jackie Bradley Jr. or Xander Boegarts could fit into this situation. Hamels is more ideal because he is locked up for a few years, while Cueto only has one year remaining on his contract.
In order for the Red Sox to compete in 2015, they need to acquire two top end starting pitchers to lead this young rotation. Guys like Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster will have to step it up at the back end. The offense and the bullpen look pretty solid for this team and with a bench that consists of Brock Holt and Daniel Nava, the team should feel pretty good. The success of this squad will rely on starting pitching. The MLB Winter Meetings start this week, so anything is possible.