The Boston Red Sox have made big splashes over the past 48 hours by inking two of the biggest bats on this year’s free agent market to lengthy, lucrative contracts.
After a sub-par year that saw the Sox finish 20 games under .500 and last place in the American League East, the team has addressed some of its offensive concerns by signing World Series hero Pablo Sandoval, and talented SS Hanley Ramirez to long-term deals.
The Ramirez signing, which was struck on Monday, Nov. 24, is a four-year deal worth $88 million, which also includes a vesting option for the fifth year at $22 million.
Sandoval , also known as the “Kung-Fu Panda,” is signing for a five-year deal in the $95 million range. A sixth year option is also supposedly included in the deal, but the details of that option are unclear at this time.
While some may view the moves as a little pricey, the club needed to do something to improve a team that went from World Series champion to cellar dweller in just one calendar year.
Ramirez and Sandoval should both benefit from the hitter friendly Fenway Park, but the number of years they can continue to play their current positions will be a question towards the end of the contracts. However, with David Ortiz inching closer towards the end of his career, both players could possibly see time at DH down the road.
Sandoval hit to the tune of a .279/.324/.415 slash-line in 2014 with 16 HRs and 73 RBIs on his way to helping the Giants win their third World Series title in five years.
Ramirez, on the other hand, hit to a .283/.369/.448 slash-line in 2014 with 13 HRs and 71 RBIs in 128 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Early indications are that Ramirez will be the team’s left fielder in 2015 with youngster Xander Bogaerts already handling the SS duties. Such a position transition could also be a prelude to more moves to come by GM Ben Cherington, as Ramirez’s presence in left creates an even bigger logjam for a team that already has Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Shane Victorino, Rusney Castillo, and Mookie Betts in its outfield mix.
Two or even three of those players could be a part of upcoming trades to address the team’s pitching depth needs. The club’s rotation is young to say the least, with Clay Buchholtz now the only truly experienced holdover from the club that won it all in 2013.
The club’s rotation could get a big boost if the Sox brass could create a reunion with highly coveted lefty Jon Lester, whom it dealt away to Oakland this past trade deadline.
Lester turned down an extension last spring, which was said to be in the four-year $70 million range. With teams like the Giants, Cubs, and Braves already showing considerable interest in the durable lefty, it will could take a five, six, or even a seven-year deal to land the most consistent starter on the market. Knowing Lester the way they do, and with money rarely being a problem, the Sox could easily open up the wallet and out bit a lot of teams for Lester’s services. The Sox could also look at cheaper options like James Shields, Ervin Santana, or Francisco Liriano.