There's no doubt that Jayson Werth is the best right-handed hitting outfielder on the free agent market this offseason. And it's also no secret that the Red Sox are interested in the Phillies' slugger.
Werth, like all Scott Boras clients coming off great seasons (.296/.388/.592), is expected to sign a huge deal this offseason, probably somewhere in the six-year, nine-figure range.
And if the Red Sox want to resign key players like Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz, they might not be able to go after Werth. But that doesn't mean they can't find his production elsewhere.
There are a plethora of right-handed sluggers on the market this winter that would fit in very nicely in the middle or lower third of the Red Sox' lineup.
Andruw Jones, Xavier Nady and Austin Kearns are all definite free agents this offseason. Meanwhile, Texas' Jeff Franceour and Atlanta's Matt Diaz are expected to be non-tendered (made free agents instead of going to arbitration) by their respective clubs, so they could be added to the mix.
None of these players has ever produced the kinds of numbers that Werth produced over the last three years in Philadelphia, save for Jones in his heyday with the Braves. But a funny thing happens to right-handed sluggers when they hit in the middle of the Red Sox order, in Fenway Park, with the Green Monster — they suddenly become All-Stars.
Adrian Beltre certainly knows what can happen. In five years with the Seattle Mariners from 2005 to 2009, Beltre hit .266/.317/.442. In his only year as a full-time Green Monster wall-scraper, Beltre's numbers skyrocketed to .321/.365/.553.
The same thing happened to Mike Lowell. In 2005 with the Marlins, Lowell hit .236/.298/.360. In 2006, his first season in Boston, Lowell hit .284/.339/.475.
Coincidence? I think not.
Werth would likely continue to put up huge numbers in Beantown if he signed with the Red Sox, but his cost might be too high relative to the kind of production they'd get from a Jones, Franceour or Diaz.
And when it comes down to it, Boston — even with all the injuries — didn't have problems scoring in 2010, finishing second in the majors with 818 runs.
So while Werth may be the most appealing free agent on the market, the Red Sox will be right back in the thick of things if they stay healthy, maintain their core, add a small piece or two and, of course, revamp the bullpen.