Red Sox - 3 and 3
With the signings of Renteria and Clement - Theo Epstein's off-season job boils down to dealing with 3 and 3. He has three more roster spots to fill - back-up outfielder, starting catcher and middle utility infielder. He also has three players he's trying to trade off the current roster.
Let's take a closer look at the 3 and 3.
For the roster spots:
- Back-up outfielder: this was the position held by Gabe Kapler and currently held by Dave Roberts. The problem is that Epstein has promised Roberts that he'd trade him to a team where Roberts can be a starter. This means that Theo will fill this position via trade. Jay Payton, Xavier Nady, Bobby Kielty are some of the names being thrown out there as possibilities. I wouldn't be surprised to see a three-team deal here.
- Starting catcher: most likely this will be Jason Varitek. Right now it seems like the Red Sox have been bidding against themselves. The idea that maybe Jason doesn't want to return must be considered (strongly). I don't think anyone will offer Varitek more than 4/$34 million - so I don't see what the delay is. The only team out there with that kind of money is the Dodgers and their GM - Paul DePodesta is a Billy Beane disciple and Beane made it perfectly clear that he was no fan of Varitek.
- Middle infielder: Pokey Reese is perfect for this spot but Pokey may get a starting SS or 2nd job somewhere or the Sox may fill this position via trade. I like Pokey and I'm hoping he re-ups with the team.
Three players Theo is trying to move:
- Dave Roberts: as mentioned above - Theo made a promise to Roberts that he'd try and move him to a team where he can start. Roberts is widely hailed as a gentleman and in New England - his steal off Mariano Rivera has made him a folk hero. The Padres and Diamondbacks both need a cost effective centerfielder - so I would look for him to wind up in either of those two spots.
- Byung Hyun Kim: He's due to make $6 million this year and it seems like a fresh start would do him well. Right now Kim stands as Theo's biggest mistake but I think if you think about that for a minute it only helps further underlines how well Theo has done. The Yankees have contracts like Kevin Brown and Jason Giambi while the Sox just have Kim.
- Kevin Millar or Doug Mientkiewicz. Only one can start at first base and neither is willing to be a back-up. One must go. Both have their pluses. Millar is a known quantity and he has been good for the clubhouse. Theo rescued Millar from Japan but I wouldn't be surprised (I hope it doesn't happen but I wouldn't be surprised) if Millar burnt bridges after being traded. Mientkiewicz is a Gold Glover at first and maybe a full season hitting balls off the Monster would do wonders for him. Flip a coin over who to keep and who to trade. Personally I'd like to see both traded and Todd Helton come in (with the Rockies picking up all but $10 million per year of his contract).
Well - the above is what Theo Epstein will be dealing with for the rest of the winter. Good luck Theo.