Red Sox make a few moves; Trade Rumors around the Majors

November 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies need a third baseman. Look no further than speedy Chone Figgins, a hitting machine who dazzled with the Anaheim Angels and is now a free agent.

The Philadelphia Phillies need a third baseman. Look no further than speedy Chone Figgins, a hitting machine who dazzled with the Anaheim Angels and is now a free-agent.

The Boston Red Sox were busy to begin the offseason, acquiring outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins, and remained busy in their effort to build a championship-caliber team. General Manager Theo Epstein restructured Tim Wakefield ’s deal, replacing a $4 million team option for 2010 with a two-year contract for the 43-year-old knuckleballer worth a guaranteed $7 million. He also intelligently picked up the $7 million team option on catcher Victor Martinez . Then, he made another wise move, declining their $5 million team option on over-the-hill captain and catcher Jason Varitek .

The re-signing of Wakefield gives Boston two more years of dependability at the back-end of their rotation. Having a knuckleballer is a hit-or-miss proposition; he will get hit hard, then be unhittable. But for the most part, he pitches deep into games, allows a minimal amount of runs, and keeps the Red Sox in contention, which are the reasons why they have so much faith in the longest tenured member of the team.

His re-signing means either the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation is his. This leaves Boston with a formidable five-man rotation: Josh Beckett in a contract year, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is looking to rebound after an injury-plagued 2009, young Clay Buchholz, and Wakefield. If there is one drawback to the re-signing of Wakefield, however, it doesn’t give Boston the opportunity to sign a free agent pitcher. Unless they plan on using him just in long relief or for spot-starts, or unless they plan on using a six-man rotation, they can’t pursue the likes of Rich Harden .

Harden would come relatively cheap solely because of his injury history. He has a world of talent in his right arm, but because of recurring arm injuries or other such setbacks he has had, there is no way to guesstimate how man starts he could make. He could make ten and spend the majority of the season on the shelf, or he could make thirty and contend for the Cy Young. If I was at the controls, I’d take the risk, considering what the 27-year-old could do if injury-free.

Wakefield has had severe back problems throughout the latter stages of his career, so given that he isn’t a sure-thing either, the Harden possibility becomes much more plausible. I would rather see the Red Sox sign Harden for $7 million than have to commit an obscene amount of money to a star on the market, such as John Lackey, who would command at least a  five-year deal worth upwards of $80 million.

Picking up Matinez’s option is an obvious decision, as the 30-year-old catcher hit .336 with a .405 on-base percentage to compliment his 8 homers and 41 rbi’s in 56 games with the Red Sox after being acquired at the July 31 trade deadline. He fit in immediately and gave Boston the power bat and dependability they were lacking from the catcher position.

Varitek was the catcher, but there was a reason why the Red Sox declined their team option. The captain hit just .209 last season, an offensive liability the team couldn’t afford to use on a daily basis; hence the acquisition of Martinez. The title of “Captain” carried a lot of weight the year prior and that stature along with the way he handled the pitching staff was the reason Boston stuck with him regularly until the Martinez trade. But they felt it was time to move on, and rightfully so, despite the overwhelming impact he had made to earn the “Captain” title.

He can still return, however, but it is his choice. The Red Sox declined a $5 million team option, clearly gesturing it was time to part ways, but he can excercise a $3 million player option in order to remain. Reports were as of Sunday night that he would do so and return, but Epstein informed the media on Monday that Varitek had not yet indeed picked up the option. According to Sports Illustrated Jon Heyman , Varitek will discuss the option with the devil of the Agent world, Scott Boras, his representative.

In other offseason news, The Philadelphia Phillies, instead of resuming talks of a possible trade for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, will focus on bulking their bullpen and finding a more suitable option at third base than Pedro Feliz . Feliz, who was serviceable, could return, but the team is seriously pursuing Chone Figgins to man the hot corner, according to Heyman .

Figgins, formerly of the Anaheim Angels (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, if you prefer), is an interesting target by Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr.. Despite struggling in the playoffs, the 31-year-old is a very good hitter, and is extremely fast. He would give the Phillies three leadoff types, as Heyman mentioned: Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino , a duo that sits atop their lineup, are built around speed, and are relatively light-hitting. This is not to say that Figgins would be a bad signing. I think it would be excellent, given their crop of power hitters–Chase Utley , Ryan Howard , and Jayson Werth . Adding Figgins would bolster their offense considerably, and improve upon an already stellar power-speed combination.

Moving onto the team the Phillies lost to in the World Series, the New York Yankees have had internal discussions about bringing all three of their big free-agents back : Outfielder Johnny Damon , who was a hitting machine all season long and throughout the playoffs, designated hitter Hideki Matsui , who won the World Series MVP, and pitcher Andy Pettitte , who won four of his five starts during the postseason. Re-signing all three would be wise for the World Series champions, not only because all three are very valuable to their success, but also because this might mean they–for once–aren’t looking to make a big offseason splash.

They still could. It’s the Yankees. Time will tell, as the offseason has just begun. Who knows what it is on the horizon, especially for the teams in Boston, Philly, and the Bronx.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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