Now that the dust has settled on the 2014 MLB season and the GM meetings have wrapped up, the attention has shifted to 2015 as each team tries to better themselves for the new season through trades and free agency.
With the Red Sox coming off a 71-win, last place finish in 2014, they certainly have a lot of work to do for 2015 and beyond. They’ve already attached their name to two of the most coveted free agents, which officially makes it hot stove season in Boston.
The Red Sox have made it quite clear that their first main target is free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, as the team looks to solidify the third base position and obtain another left-handed bat (Sandoval is a switch-hitter).
Sandoval has been in Boston early this week, reportedly seeing the city and meeting with members of the Red Sox front office. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Sandoval has discussed a five-year, $80-90 million deal, which would likely be a contract the Sox would be on board with.
The switch-hitter hasn’t put up the best of numbers in the past two years — hitting .279 in 2014 and .278 in 2013, with a grand total of 30 home runs. But some of this could have to do with playing in the confines of AT&T Park. Playing at Fenway Park with the Green Monster would likely increase those numbers.
The next priority, and the second top free agent the Red Sox have shown interest in is, to no one’s surprise, Jon Lester. The team traded away 4/5 of its rotation last season, so it’s no surprise they are looking to add.
Lester has said on numerous occasions that he would be open to returning to Boston, at the right price of course. Although the contract Lester is likely seeking might be beyond what the Red Sox have in mind for a player over 30, this is an exception.
The team is in desperate need of an ace, and Lester has proven in the Boston market that he can be one. The left-hander is extremely durable, having thrown 200-plus innings in six of the last seven seasons. The only exception came in 2011, when he threw 191 2/3. Lester has also recorded at least 15 wins in six of those seven seasons.
Even more important, in some respects, is Lester’s ability to elevate his game in big situations. In 14 career games in the postseason, he is 6-4 with a 2.57 ERA. In the World Series he’s 3-0 with a miniscule 0.43 ERA.
The Red Sox aren’t looking at just Sandoval and Lester. There are still plenty of holes that need to be filled — and while spring training doesn’t begin until February, the 2015 season has already begun for the Sox front office.
Welcome to hot stove season.