Red Sox Winter Meeting Preview

The Winter Meetings start a week from today in Nashville, TN. After some fun filled joy at Opryland (is that still open?), expect the Red Sox front office folk to work on improving the 2008 squad.

Buster Olney had an interesting take on the Johan Santana sweepstakes. Let’s say the Twins are able to piece together a trade for Santana, well Santana has a full no-trade clause. Santana is due to be a free agent after the 2008 season. He can veto any deal thus gaining leverage. If he puts the kibosh on it, he can either demand a greater contract extension from the acquiring team, or simply wait until after the 2008 season to become a free agent and the skies the limit.

Word on the street is that Santana is asking for 6 years, $150mm. Wow. That’s more than any pitcher has ever earned (Roger Clemens beat that in 2007, but it was prorated). Great, you’ve just traded for a pitcher that is going to ask for $25mm a season. Oh yeah, and don’t forget, in order to get him, you had to give up 2 of your best prospects (maybe 3).

With all of that in mind, I say the Red Sox should act the part of interested trade partner, but unless Santana wants less money and the Twins less prospects, stick with what they have. I think Yankee fan, on Peter’s side, Mitchell had this figured out last week when he stated in the comments that Santana is going to be a free agent in 2008. I now agree.

So Theo Epstein, kick the tires, but don’t pull the trigger. While Jon Lester and Clay Buccholz are largely unproven over a 162 game season, I like their chances. Even if they both flop, you still have roughly $25mm not spent on Santana to deploy.

To lend further credence to my argument, Olney reported yesterday (via Peter Gammons) that the Twins are asking for Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson. That’s a starting pitcher with # 1 stuff potential, a starting centerfielder and a young centerfield prospect in Jackson. That’s expensive. But if it isn’t involving Joba and Kennedy, the Yankees might bite. Obviously NY can afford the contract, but they might not be willing to part with the talent. A comparable deal for Boston would be Buccholz, Ellsbury and a lesser prospect. Too expensive.

No word on where Coco Crisp will be traded if anywhere. There is a chance Boston will hang on to Crisp and trade him when the offer is right. This might make for a grumpy Crisp, but he did handle his playoff demotion well and I would expect he’d do the same if this scenario played out.

With 21 of 25 rosters spots filled, the Red Sox have committed $121,110,000 in payroll for 2008 (my calculation). The last 4 spots aren’t likely to be more than $1mm each (and could be less if filled by rookies). Additionally, if Crisp ($4.75mm) gets moved, it might even go down. This is a dramatic decrease from 2007’s $143,026,214 as taken from Cot’s Baseball Contracts. This means the Red Sox are either happy at this level (John Henry’s business has struggled and his new home was really expensive and shark fin soup is tough to get) or they have plans for additional talent acquisition. That is some serious cash to play with if the latter scenario plays out. Your thoughts? Do the Red Sox stand pat or go out and acquire (who cares how, trade, free agency, etc) a mega talent to bolster the roster? I say they stand pat.