It probably would make some sense for me to go on the record as to what I think the Sox should do about their potentially calamitous free agent situation. However, the situation is so complex, and there are so many contingencies to contemplate that it would be a trap. BUT, I will do so, in the interest of full, semi-intelligent disclosure.
First, a couple of disclaimers:
A) The Sox should not offer any player, no matter who it is, a contract that is of a length or amount that hinders their ability to move that player at any time. That is, no no-trade clauses unless the salary and length of contract is commensurate with giving such a clause.
B) The Sox should sign players because they address a need, not because they are trying solely to prevent a rival from addressing their needs.
The Sox should do all they can to sign Varitek. Heart and soul and all that – it’s true. Watching tons of games over the last few years via the magic of cable it’s clear this guy is most valuable, a true leader, and a superb handler of the staff and all-around smart guy. It seems like 4 years at close to the annual rate he’s asking is a smart offer. 5/55 with a no-trade? Sorry, that’s an albatross.
The Sox should do what they can to sign Pedro, but 3 years/42M guaranteed? Very tough call, even if that’s what the Yankees offer. I imagine 42M over 3 years can be more smartly spent, whether it’s giving up Youkilis and prospects to prize Tim Hudson from the A’s and then devoting that money to Hudson, or grabbing some combination of Pavano and others, I could go either way. Anything approaching a 4 year deal should be rejected, and fast.
Lowe: +7M/year for 3 years? Again, tough call, but it seems like Lowe is going to be a 200 inning, 13-16 win, 10-13 loss kind of guy for the duration. He’s a nice guy to have as a #3, but having also watched him pitch over the last three years he looks to be an above-average hurler, someone who can be trusted for innings, but not necessarily trusted for consistency. His ALCS and WS efforts were amazing, but that’s not how you decide if you should spend $25M+. The Boras factor makes this an unlikely signing, and if he’s too expensive, then we say a big thank you, Derek, we owe you a lot, but good luck.
Cabrera: this is a really tough call for me. I came to really appreciate Cabrera’s talents over the last 1/3 of the season. The guy can flat-out field, he’s energetic, he’s a solid if not intimidating hitter, and he seems like a true gamer. However, if Hanley Ramirez is as good as people say, then it’s tough to look at signing Cabrera to the 4 year deal he probably deserves. In this case, I very much consider seeing what I can get in a deal for Ramirez, and if it brings me great value I consider moving him and keeping Cabrera. On the other hand, if the deals aren’t there for Ramirez, and if he really is a potential stud, then I let Cabrera go and find a one year stopgap until he’s ready. With Varitek there’s no confusion – either you pay him or you don’t, it all comes down to financial planning and team need, there’s nobody really impressive below him at this point With the OC decision, though, Theo’s got his hands full – he has to speculate about his best prospect, and at the same time find a suitable backup if Cabrera can’t be signed.
So there you have it, a relatively unsentimental look at the Sox’ FA situation. I sincerely hope the Sox find a way to keep at least 2 of these 4 guys around, for continuty as well as sheer watchability. Again, they are in a very tough spot, one which they would have been in regardless of the postseason result, but one which is now magnified by the new trophy in residence at Fenway Park.