The number 13 appears to be lucky for free agents Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. Pending physicals, both will sign three-year deals with the Boston Red Sox that will pay each of them $13 million annually.
Red Sox Nation and many sports observers are underwhelmed by these moves, especially since Napoli and Victorino are coming off their worst career-years in 2012. Red Sox management, however, expects that 2013 will be bounce-back seasons for both. The Sox are also enamored of Napoli’s “Fenway swing.” The team apparently overpaid in exchange for keeping the contracts short term. Long-term contracts have backfired on many MLB teams.
Napoli (career. 259) is a right-handed catcher/first baseman, but, given the current logjam at the catching position on the team, he will likely spend most of his time at first. Victorino (.275 lifetime) is a switch-hitting outfielder. The Sox also added outfielder Jonny Gomes on a $10 million, two-year deal. The team also claims that it still wants to re-sign fan and clubhouse favorite Cody Ross, another outfielder.
With the injuries that have devastated the team in the past two years, one of management’s stated goals is to achieve “deep depth.” The addition of another first baseman is possible, and there has been some buzz about bringing back Kevin Youkilis although he appears headed to the Cleveland Indians. Another objective, given the turmoil of the past few seasons, is to sign players who are “good clubhouse guys.”
The Victorino deal suggests that Boston may be laying the groundwork to trade free-agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury sooner rather than later, whose Scott-Boras-inspired salary demands will probably be beyond the capacity of the Red Sox. GM Ben Cherington insists that Ellsbury will be the team’s center fielder in 2013, however.
During this week’s MLB winter meetings in Nashville, Cherington and manager John Farrell reportedly had an under-the-radar personal meeting with outfielder Josh Hamilton, but the Rangers’ free agent seems unlikely to land in Boston because his desire for a long-term contract. As the Boston Herald explains,
“Hamilton would provide the Red Sox with the left-handed power that they are seeking after adding righty-hitting Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes. But they will get involved with Hamilton only if he’s willing to accept a short-term deal, likely no longer than three years.”
About a month ago, the Sox came to terms with DH David Ortiz on a two-year, $26 million deal.
Do you think the Red Sox should trade Jacoby Ellsbury now in exchange for pitching?
[Image credit: Googie man]