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The Toronto Blue Jays may have just made Thanksgiving Day a disappointing day in Boston. Hey, those Canadians celebrate the holiday on the second Monday in October anyway (like that makes sense).
The Blue Jays signed free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez on Thursday to a one-year, $2.75 million deal. The Sox were reportedly interested in signing Gonzalez to a one-year, $3 million deal, but the team wanted to look through other options in free agency and in trades first. Instead of waiting, Gonzalez bolted for Toronto.
Now, the Red Sox only have Jed Lowrie under contract at shortstop, which also means they will be looking elsewhere for a starter because they can’t rely on Lowrie at all. So, who’s available?
Some options include Orlando Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, and former Jay Marco Scutaro. These three players are all Type A free agents, which means the Sox will have to fork over draft picks if they sign any of the players.
The Red Sox already went down this road, and despite a good glove and hot bat, the Sox let him leave via free agency after winning it all in 2004. Apparently, O-Cab was disruptive in the lockerroom and hurt tesm chemistry.
Theo Epstein loves having offense out of the shortstop position, but the team hasn’t had that consistently since 2004. Tejada will provide offense, but he’s aging very quick and will be a liability defensively. Also, is Tejada worth giving up draft picks?
It’s safe to say Scutaro might have caught the Adrian Beltre syndrome, and that won’t be a good thing for the Red Sox unless they sign him to a one-year deal. Sadly, Scutaro will want a multi-year deal, which is probably not worth it. But, one has to remember that Theo values the “Moneyball” philosophy, and Scutaro was a longtime member of Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s. Theo could give up the draft picks to sign Scutaro and his career .337 OBP (he had 90 walks and a .379 OBP last year).
Players who don’t require compensation include Khalil Greene or Bobby Crosby, but both are arguably worse options than Lowrie.
JJ Hardy was traded for dimes on the dollar to the Twins, so he’s out of the picture. Who else may be available?
It was often rumored that Theo Epstein never would have traded Ramirez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell in 2005 if he were in power (he was away from the team on his “leave of absence” after a disagreement with Larry Luchhino). Would he consider trading for him? Casey Kelly and Clay Buchholz would be enough to get it done, but would it be worth it? The Red Sox greatly value Kelly, and may not deal him for anyone not named Felix Hernandez. Besides, Ramirez has “future centerfielder” written all over him, like Alfonso Soriano did.
While he may not know how to spell his own first name, Peralta provides a good amount of pop at the shortstop position and he won’t kill you defensively. Last year, in a horrible year for the Indians, Peralta hit .254 with 11 HRs and 83 RBI. In the three of the previous four years before that, Peralta flashed legitimate 20-HR power.
The Braves always seem willing to deal for young pitching, and Escobar’s name has come up in past deals. Would they be willing to ship him to Boston? Escobar had nice seasons the last two years (10 HR, 60 RBI, .288 AVG in 2008, and 14 HR, 76 RBI, .299 AVG in 2009), and is affordable.
The Sox looked at Guzman last year before trading for Alex Gonzalez, and they may explore this option again. Guzman provides decent defense and a pretty good bat. The Sox may consider trading for Guzman because he’s just wasting away in Washington. His career .307 batting average leaves a lot to be desired, though.
After sorting through all the options, my recommendation is for the Red Sox to sign a non-Type A free agent if at all possible, but I’m not sure that’s possible considering how poor the other options are.
Lingering in the darkness is that guy I already mentioned, Casey Kelly. “Wait, but he’s a pitcher!” Yes, but he’s also a shortstop. The Sox covet his versatility, and he may become the team’s shortstop in a few years. So, there may be hope down the road.
Oh, and some guy named Nomar is a free agent. Maybe the Sox should give him a tryout?