For the Red Sox their season has essentially been over for a month or so, but it doesn’t mean the games they have played have not meant anything. These games have given the Red Sox a chance for players to prove themselves for next season. One of the positions on the team that remains unclear for next year is shortstop.
Four different players have started games at short this season. Mike Aviles leads the group with 118, followed by Pedro Ciriaco with 11 and Jose Iglesias with 10. Nick Punto started five before being traded to the Dodgers.
Any one of these players could be the starting shortstop in 2013, but then again it could be a player outside this group as the Red Sox will have plenty of financial flexibility this offseason and could very well sign and/or trade for another shortstop.
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Aviles is eligible for arbitration this offseason and will turn 32-years-old before next season. Aviles has had a decent season, but not anything that would make a very strong case for the Red Sox to retain him. He has hit .250 with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs, while playing an above average shortstop.
For the first time in his career Ciriaco has played a significant role for a major league team. In 61 games this season he has hit .300 while playing seven positions, but primarily the middle infield. The question with Ciriaco is can he put up these numbers while playing a full season, and is he a full-time shortstop? Ciriaco’s numbers have cooled off of late as going into last night he is hitting just .191 in September. Ciriaco might be better served as a utility player, rather than a starter.
Finally there is Iglesias who has shown off his glove in the field since the Red Sox drafted him in 2010, but the organization has been waiting for his offense to pick up. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened, as in two seasons with Pawtucket he has hit .251 and has just two hits in 33 at-bats with the Red Sox this September.
To me, the Red Sox will not bring back Aviles and Ciriaco is better served as a utility player. This leaves them left with deciding whether Iglesias is ready for the big show, or even if they still consider him the shortstop of the future.
These last few weeks of the season are big for Iglesias with him needing to leave a good impression going into the winter, but in the end, the Red Sox could very well be searching the free agent market for their 2013 starting shortstop.