Winter Meetings Surprise: Contracts By The Red Sox

The surprise of the Winter Meetings for me has been the Red Sox. Mainly, this is not the direction I thought they would go.

In the middle of last season, the Red Sox were able to dump all of their bad contracts with the exception of Lackey to the Dodgers. This gave Boston back financial freedom for this year to sign some hitters and maybe a pitcher. Instead the Dodgers have done this:

– Signed Ross (the Catcher, not the OF)
– Signed Napoli to a 3 year, 39 million deal
– Signed Victorino to a 3 year, 39 million deal

Ross is on this list because in the whole picture, he doesn’t make sense. If the Red Sox were going to go hard for Napoli, and they already had Salty, why would they sign another catcher? When they signed Ross, Salty looked expendable, now it looks like they will have to deal Salty because the roster is redundant. 39 million is also a lot of money for Napoli, it’s another bad contract. The contract’s redeeming quality comes from a “there are not a lot of catchers on the market, so we need to overpay the best hitting one” perspective. Generally the philosophy that gets teams in trouble.

I haven’t watched Victorino in the last three years and thought, “you know, that ballplayer deserves 39 million”. Earlier in his career he was fantastic but lately his numbers have been sliding off. He’ll probably benefit from playing in Fenway but I can’t help to feel like that money could have been better invested. Ellsbury is 28, why didn’t they try to extend him? Coming off of an injury, Ellsbury’s value is at the lowest it has been in a while, this is a good time to push for an extension (unless Ellsbury wants to try the market next off season, which will be a good move for him).

If I was a Red Sox fan, I would be frustrated, Napoli and Victorino seem like signings made to just make signings. It is difficult to gain perspective since we are still deep in the Winter, but I wonder if the over paying of players right now is due to an overall weak free agent market. Whatever the case is, this type of financial burden is not good for the team as a whole going forward.

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