First base was supposed to be fortified for
When the Red Sox signed Adrian Gonzalez to a
seven-year, $154 million contract before the 2011 season, they hoped to have locked up
the cornerstone of their team. A year and a half later, the Gonzalez plan was no more.
In an attempt to clean house and change the
culture of the organization, the Red Sox traded Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh
Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers in August in exchange for first baseman
James Loney and prospects.
For the final five weeks of the 2012 season,
Loney split time with Mauro Gomez at first base for the Red Sox. Loney,
however, is scheduled to hit free agency when the World Series ends.
So where do the Red Sox go from here? Do
they stick with Loney, go with Gomez or handpick someone from free agency?
Let's take Loney first. The 28-year-old has
a track record of masterful defense, but he's nowhere close to being a power
hitter in Gonzalez's class. Through seven seasons in the majors, he's belted
just 73 home runs.
Last season, he finished with six home runs
and 41 RBIs. Given that Loney has likely reached his ceiling — his career high
for homers was 15 in 2007 — it's doubtful the Red Sox would re-sign him.
Gomez' long-term future is also uncertain,
considering he's not a prospect. At 28, Gomez received his first sniff of
major league action in 37 games, hitting two home runs and 17 RBIs while
As the reigning International League MVP,
Gomez has raw power with a few years left in his prime. So much so, a source
said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told Gomez to get as many reps as
possible at first base during winter league.
But in all likelihood, the Red Sox may go
outside the organization to acquire their next first baseman. They could make a
deal with the Mets, who have two first base options in Lucas Duda and Ike
Davis, both of whom are relatively young.
Cherington may also look into free agency to
fill the void. Mike Napoli — known as a Red Sox killer — Adam LaRoche and
Nick Swisher are all options that could bridge the gap into the franchise's
first base future.
Either way, there's a hole at first base.
Don't be surprised if a new face is filling it next season.