While there aren't a whole lot of questions facing this off-season, and as Tony Massarittu said in a recent article, "[The Red Sox] are not truly desperate for anything. Even if the Sox make no moves, they will return with a club that came within one victory of another trip to the World Series." There are however few rumors circulating that would have perked my interest as a GM and one is as follows:
Sending Julio Lugo to the Tigers for either Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson. These talks fell through due to monitary restraints on the Tigers part, but it brings up the point that the Sox have two players on their current roster who don't have a place in the starting lineup, but could possibly be shipped out for young tallent; Lugo and Coco Crisp.
Okay, so the Sox would be happy just getting rid of Lugo and his $9.25 million a year contract for a bag of balls. There isn't a team out there that will give the Sox any real talent in return for a 33 year old Lugo who managed a MAJOR LEAGUE WORST .139 batting average with risp last season, but with the emergence of Lowrie, who is not only a far superior fielder, but hitter also, the Sox need to do all they can to ship lugo out of town...they can find another pinch runner for cheaper...
Crisp isn't going to be the cornerstone of any deals this off-season either, but unlike Lugo he doesn't have some attraction as a deal sweetener for some teams. Coco, who finished last season with a .284 BA, 7 HR, 55 R, and 20SB in just 381 atbats is still only 29 years old and is scheduled to make just $5 million next year. Crisp would be the starting centerfielder on any number of teams in the league and the Sox just need to find a team that has some semblance of catching depth in order to make a deal.
The most well known trade talks right now that may include Coco Crisp are with the Texas Rangers who, with the departure of Milton Bradley, leaving a whole is CF, as well as significant catching depth (Jerrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Jerald Laird), seem to be the perfect fit for a trade with the Sox. The latest rumors have Clay Buccholz and Crisp being sent to Texas for Saltalamacchia, a catcher who despite his mediocre 2008 (.253 BA, 3 HR, 26 RBI in 200AB) has amazing upside.
The Rangers seem set on keeping Teagarden, the youngest and most highly praised of the three Texas squatters, but since the Sox seem equally set on keeping their young pitching tallent, don't be surprised to see Crisp traded straight up for Laird later in the winter. Another possible transaction that might be in the works is sending a package comprised of two of three young pitching prospects from the Sox (Bowden, Masterson, Hagadone) and Crisp for Saltalamacchia.