On Monday, the first day of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Boston reportedly inked catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli to a three-year deal, not only plugging the team’s hole at first base, but also acquiring a player long desired by the franchise. Napoli immediately fills the first base and right-handed power void facing the Sox.
So, the obvious follow-up question is where do they go from here?
Boston clearly isn’t done this offseason. There are still both corner outfield spots, a rotation slot and possibly a vacancy at shortstop to fill, so suffice to say there is still some work to be done. Luckily, the Red Sox have the financial resources to do the necessary work.
But who should Boston target next? Outfield is the most obvious spot, but it’s still conceivable that the Sox could sign an additional first baseman or look for help in other areas.
Josh Hamilton is probably first and foremost among free-agent outfielders. The 31-year-old is coming off an MVP-type season, and his off-the-charts talent is a known quantity at this point. However, Hamilton also comes with as much baggage — in the form of well-documented addictions — as any player in baseball, and has injury concerns as he heads further north of 30.
Cody Ross was hugely popular for the Red Sox in 2012, as the right fielder was the Red Sox’ lone threat to remain healthy and productive throughout the entirety of the season. With a swing and demeanor that seem tailor-made for Fenway Park, the team will likely try to bring him back, but could a bidding war drive up his price?
Another intriguing option is Nick Swisher, the former Yankee who’s noted as one of the top on-base threats in baseball. Like Napoli, Swisher is a king of “old player’s skills,” meaning he walks and hits for power at good clips, making his overall value outweigh his ostensible totals.
Other options that the Red Sox might kick the tires on include first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is coming of a career season with the Washington Nationals, and Shane Victorino, a versatile outfielder who can impact the game in many different ways.