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With this year’s baseball free agent class, many questions arise about where the best free agents like Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton will end up. It is debatable of who is the best free agent. But, considering Hamilton’s off-field issues and asking price are scaring teams, it makes Greinke the best free agent out on the market.
The Red Sox finished in 27th place with an ERA of 4.70 in 2012. The embarrassing part is even the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros finished ahead of the Sox. It should be assumed that since the Sox finished close to last place in ERA, they should go out in the market and sign Greinke. But, hold your horses.
With the hiring of John Farrell, it changes the direction of how aggressive the Sox should be in the market for pitching. In 2007 when John Farrell was the Red Sox pitching coach, the Sox finished 2nd with a 3.87 ERA. Farrell leaving the team to manage the Blue Jays was a huge turning point with the Sox pitching staff. Now, by bringing him back, it is assumed Lester and Buchholz will post better numbers in 2013 and that the team’s ERA will improve from 4.70.
So with that said, the Sox should not consider signing Greinke for several reasons.
There is no doubt that Greinke is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Back when Carl Crawford was a free agent in 2011, he was one of the best free agents out in the market. The Sox made a splash by signing him, but the Crawford experiment soon turned into the “Crawford Nightmare.” Even though Crawford and Greinke play a complete different position, it came as a sign to Sox fans and teams in baseball that signing a player to nine figures is risky.
Greinke is seeking a six-year, $150 million deal. The Sox are in dire need of pitching, but should not be willing to spend $150 million for one pitcher. Greinke is an amazing player, but that much money for just Greinke would eat a huge chunk of the Sox budget. When players sign a big contract with a team, it always starts out as amazing signing. But once players fail to fulfill the contract or decline season by season, the signing starts out from amazing to a mediocre deal.
Starting pitching is most likely the main priority for the Red Sox offseason. Just because it is the main priority, does not mean the Sox do not need to focus filling other positions. The Sox need to strengthen their lineup by adding an outfielder and first baseman. Sox also need help with their bullpen. Starting pitching was a disaster but again, bringing John Farrell back was a smart move to help the rotation.
Greinke would improve the starting rotation but with his asking price, the Sox can seek other alternatives at a lower cost. Adding a starting pitcher or two is important for the Sox, but having John Farrell back should give the Sox plenty of reason to save their money for other needs.
It is agreed that Greinke is the best starting pitcher out in the market. But, there are plenty of options the Sox can explore throughout the free agent market to help boost their rotation. A few smaller-scale options include Brandon McCarthy, Dan Haren, Shaun Marcum, and Hiroki Kuroda. Each of these players comes into the market with a reasonable asking price and will be able to contribute to the rotation. The Sox should look into these options rather than spend $150 million for one star pitcher.
Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse also have high asking prices despite the fact they may turn out to only be a 2nd or 3rd starter.
The Sox should stick to lower-cost pitching options with the known fact that they can contribute.
In 2008, the Yankees signed CC Sabathia to a seven year deal worth $171 million dollars. Sabathia has not disappointed and has so far lived up to that contract.
Signing this contract, it was assumed that Sabathia would be the ace of the Yankees staff. Sabathia has shown a bit of injuries there and there, but he has overall made a huge impact with the Yankees.
Seeing Sabathia’s success, the Sox may be given thoughts that Greinke could provide same amount of impact as Sabathia has done for the Yankees. But, the Sox do not need that type of pitcher because they have Jon Lester.
Lester has struggled since John Farrell has left. His ERA skyrocketed, going from 3.47 to 4.76. With Farrell back, this should improve Lester’s numbers substantially. Lester’s best years came with John Farrell as pitching coach. Having him back makes it exciting to see how he will turn around.