The Boston Red Sox are lucky enough to have a surplus of starting pitching that they can play around with. The World Series champions have one of the most complete starting rotations in baseball as well as a lights out bullpen. Ryan Dempster, John Lackey and Jake Peavy all have one year left on their contracts and at least one could well be shipped out before Spring Training. They do however have to fill the hole in center field left by Jacoby Ellsbury who controversially joined Boston’s arch nemesis, the New York Yankees.
Red Sox manager John Farrell seems intent on replacing Ellsbury with one of their most promising outfield prospects: Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley Jr. is a heck of a baseball player and will no doubt do a wonderful job patrolling centerfield at Fenway Park. The doubt in my mind is that he won’t be able to produce big numbers with his bat. We have seen it before with the Sox, stellar defense is extremely valuable but that has to come attached to a semi productive bat. I believe Bradley Jr. will only be an average hitter and that worries me. I like the idea of having Bradley Jr. around, but only as a platoon player much like Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava.
With one year left in a hefty $14-million-dollar deal, Jake Peavy is my candidate to be used as bait in order to try and actively pursue a productive centerfielder who can put up good numbers at Fenway Park. My ideal candidates would be Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton, who both have power and are as good or better defensively than Bradley Jr. The Yankees have added Carlos Beltran and the Red Sox should add an A-list bat for their outfield.
The upside of getting rid of a large contract whilst getting a quality player in return is that you can balance the books and payoff the new contract. The Red Sox have plenty of good arms in their farm system as well as five quality starters, so it doesn’t seem like they need Peavy in order to be successful. I believe Ellsbury is a wonderful player and will be sorely missed, his offensive prowess must be replaced or they risk losing out to the Yankees and not being able to defend their crown.