While the best free agent this winter, Jacoby Ellsbury, may be heading away from the Boston Red Sox, the second best may be shipping up to Boston.
When the Red Sox failed to offer Jarrod Saltalamacchia a qualifying offer it became clear they are going to be going after Brian McCann big time, and it makes sense. McCann can be a middle of the order bat for the next several years serving as a catcher, the heir apparent to David Ortiz at DH, and the perfect teacher of young catchers as they come up to the big leagues.
Before the 2013 season, McCann spent four years handing the catcher’s position over to David Ross when McCann needed a day off. At the same time, McCann became significantly better defensively and improved his ability to handle a pitching staff, and he credits much of that to his time with Ross as a teammate.
The Red Sox have three quality catching prospects, none with more upside than Blake Swihart, but none of them will be ready for significant time behind the plate at the big league level for at least two years, more than likely three.
David Ortiz is 37, and despite coming off his World Series MVP performance he won’t play much longer. If he plays two more years that would be perfect timing for the Red Sox organization. McCann could take over primary DH duties while working with Swihart who should be ready to shoulder the load by 2016.
McCann might also be a future fit at first base if he doesn’t want to DH in the future, and there is no long term first baseman in the Red Sox system, making that a proper fit as well.