The Red Sox had a very disappointing 2012, as their offseason signing of Bobby Valentine to serve as a drill sergeant after ChickenAndBeerGate did not exactly pan out. Bobby V upset the fans, players, and organization with his inability to filter his public comments about the team. As such, he was let go and the Red Sox finally got their main managerial target, John Farrell, in a trade with Toronto. Due to the disappointment of 2012, the bulk of the team was traded mid-season. The team enters 2013 with anywhere from 50 to 70 million dollars to spend depending on what management views as the payroll ceiling. It is definitely a luxury to go into an offseason with a budget the size of most teams payrolls, but the Red Sox also have a lot of holes to fill with that money.
The most glaring hole is at first base. Jerry Sands isn't a bad player, but doesn't have much value as an everyday starter at first. He is better suited as an option off the bench given his ability to play first base and the corner outfield positions. The Red Sox have been talking to Mike Napoli, which would be a good pickup for them given his power numbers. If Napoli is brought in, though, he brings injury risk and is prone to slumps. The first base market is very weak this year, with only Kevin Youkilis and Adam LaRoche presenting even passable options, so, if they don't go with Napoli, the trade market could be the way to go. After bringing in David Ross from Atlanta, the Sox have a catching surplus with Ross, Jarrod Saltamacchia, and Ryan Lavarnaway already in the fold and prospect Blake Swihart on his way. It makes a lot of sense to move Saltamacchia to a team in need of catching. More on that in a moment.
The team liked what they saw out of Will Middlebrooks last season and obviously have second base locked up with Dustin Pedroia, but shortstop could be an area of need. Jose Iglesias is a flashy fielder, but hasn't shown the ability to hit at any level. The Red Sox fans aren't big on run prevention, so management may want to look into offensive options for the position. Top prospect Xander Bogaerts is very intriguing, but will only be 20 years old entering 2013. It makes a lot of sense for the team to look into options like Stephen Drew or bringing back Marco Scutaro for the position, but could also look into hooking up with Cleveland for Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Red Sox just signed Jonny Gomes, but between him, Ryan Sweeney, Daniel Nava, and Ryan Kalish, the team has four guys that make solid fourth outfielders, but aren't the best starting options. Some have been talking about trading Jacoby Ellsbury, but I think it makes more sense to hold onto Ellsbury and try to find options to put in place around him. The team is the front-runner to bring back Cody Ross, but he is another player who is better in a part-time role. Between the five part time players, they could have a good season, but the Red Sox could also build a trade for a player like Shin-Soo Choo or Justin Upton.
Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront make a formidable starting three, but John Lackey and Franklin Morales are big mysteries in the rotation. With Morales arguably better suited for a bullpen role, it makes sense to bring in at least one surefire starting pitcher and possibly one or two low-risk minor league signing for depth. The team could look at free agents like Dan Haren, Ryan Dempster, Anibal Sanchez, or Ryan Dempster to fill their fifth starter slot and reclamation projects like Dallas Braden, Kevin Correia, or Chris Young could be solid depth moves.
If all the parts can stay healthy, the Red Sox have a formidable bullpen, with Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, and Mark Melancon all possessing closer experience. They could look at a returning player like Joakim Soria as a low risk, high reward signing, but if they make the depth moves listed above in the rotation, they would have Franklin Morales back in the bullpen, which would strengthen the unit.
The Red Sox have a lot of work to do this offseason, but they have the resources to fill their holes and build a team to compete with the incredibly strong American League East.