The club will have to decide whether to fill the starting role internally or search for answers outside the organization as J.D. Drew hits free agency. The decision will be a huge one for the Red Sox, whose right fielders routinely struggled throughout 2011.
Red Sox right fielders ranked last in the majors in hits (136), batting average (.233), total bases (206) and on-base percentage (.299) last season. The club ranked second-to-last in OPS (.652) and slugging percentage (.353) when it came to offensive output from the position.
Fortunately, the Sox have some options for 2012.
They could turn to free agency to fill the void, as they did with Drew prior to the 2007 season. Two players who the Sox have been linked to are Carlos Beltran and Grady Sizemore.
Boston explored the possibility of trading for Beltran prior to the trade dealine, but he ultimately ended up in San Francisco. Now that he's on the open market, though, the Sox are presented with another opportunity to go after the 34-year-old.
Beltran finished last season with a .300 average, 22 home runs and 84 RBIs in 142 games with the Mets and Giants. He's a switch-hitter, filling the Sox' need for a right-handed bat, and he's proved that he can play well down the stretch. It's not far-fetched to believe the six-time All-Star still has some pop left in his bat.
Sizemore, meanwhile, has battled injuries for much of the last three seasons. But there's no denying the talent he possesses when healthy. The 29-year-old Sizemore is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and a Silver Slugger Award winner. For him, it's mostly a matter of whether he is healthy enough to play every day.
Internally, the Sox could elect to go with either Josh Reddick, who played in 87 games last season, or Ryan Kalish, who continues to recover from surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck.
Reddick came out on fire in 2011, but he sputtered a bit late in the season. He still finished with a .280 average, seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 254 at-bats.
Kalish had been regarded by many as Boston's right fielder of the future when he came up and excelled in 2010, but injuries derailed his 2011 season. The 23-year-old is a unique talent, though, and could figure into next season's plans.
Kalish hit .252 with four home runs, 24 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 53 games (163 at-bats) in 2010.
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