Major league baseball’s hot stove is burning bright, but so far the Red Sox are have been cold in free agency.
While American League teams like the Astros and Yankees have worked to improve their teams, the Sox have played the waiting game so far. But for how much longer? While there aren’t any major glaring weaknesses on the team, there are still needs and positions that need shoring up.
Here are two players the Sox missed out on, and two players they can still go after.
Off the table
Carlos Beltran OF/DH, one-year, $16 million to Astros
There were reports out there that the Red Sox were very interested in signing Carlos Beltran this offseason. And that would make sense. Beltran, despite turning 39 years old last season, was named an All-Star and hit .295, belted 29 home runs and drove in 93 runs for the Yankees and Rangers. The Sox could have used him in either the outfield or at DH to make up for the production lost with David Ortiz. But it turns out $16 million was more than they were willing to offer. The Astros are determined to make the playoffs next season with the additions of Beltran and Josh Reddick.
Matt Holliday OF/DH, one-year, $13 million to Yankees
Unlike with Beltran, there weren’t rumors swirling over the Sox interest in Matt Holliday, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have helped. Holliday is not the hitter or fielder he once was, and will be used primarily as a DH in New York. The career-Cardinal hit just .246 last year but still managed 20 home runs in 110 games. The year before that, a quad injury sidelined him for much of the season. The American League will be good for the 36-year-old Holliday’s body. And he will bring a veteran presence and leadership to the Yankees. The Red Sox will see plenty of Holliday this season – and they better hope he doesn’t make them regret allowing him to go to the Yankees.
Jose Bautista, OF/DH – It sounds more and more like Edwin Encarnacion might be asking a little too much for the Red Sox to bite, but there’s another Blue Jay currently on the market in Bautista, who might be a better fit. At 36 years old, Bautista is a few years older than Encarnacion, but should command less years and money. He could spend time in the outfield and at DH. Though Bautista hit for a low .234 average last season, he still hit 22 home runs, drove in 69 RBI and had a .366 on-base percentage. Bautista is also an exceptional bat-flipper, as evidenced in the 2015 MLB postseason. Taking him from a division opponent is another bonus.
Tyson Ross, SP – This free agent came as a surprise, as the Padres just non-tendered him last week, making him a free agent. When the Red Sox traded for Craig Kimbrel last offseason, there were some hoping Ross was a part of the deal. He wasn’t. But now he can be had for the right price. The risk? Health. A shoulder injury kept Ross on the DL essentially all of last season. He was then diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and had surgery in October, making his availability for Opening Day questionable. But when healthy and on his game, Ross can be a nice addition to any rotation. He may be the best starting pitcher available now. The 6-foot-6, 29-year-old Ross was an All-Star in 2014, finishing the season 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 195 strikeouts in 195.2 innings. In 2015, Ross went 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 212 strikeouts in 196 innings. The Sox have rotational depth and could afford Ross beginning the year on the DL.