By Sean McAdam
Here is a look at the Red Sox' options at catcher. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.
The Red Sox made a two-year offer to Victor Martinez in September, which was roundly and predictably rejected. Speculation has that deal worth just over 20 million, which is far less than Martinez will command on the open market.
The Detroit Tigers are expected to be big players for Martinez and may be willing to give him a four-year contract. That would seem more than the Sox would be comfortable with, given they don't expect Martinez to be a full-time catcher by 2013 and would be paying him catcher's money to DH over the final two years of the deal.
The Red Sox are high on prospect Ryan Lavarnway, currently taking part in the Arizona Fall League. But while his power is enticing (.882 OPS between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland), Lavarnway is still quite raw behind the plate and is at least a year away from contributing at the major-league level.
If Martinez outprices himself, where do the Sox go for a season (or two) at catcher?
FREE AGENT TARGETS
John BuckBuck had a nice year with the Blue Jays, posting career highs in homers (20), RBI (66), slugging (.489) and OPS (.802) while throwing out 28 percent of would-be base-stealers, which is about average.
Buck made 2 million with the Blue Jays on a one-year contract and can probably expect, at 30, to get a multiyear deal. Whether the Sox would be interested in signing him for more than one year remains to be seen.
Molina, of course, spent the first half of the season with the eventual N.L. (and World Series) champion San Francisco Giants and the second half with the eventual A.L. champion Texas Rangers. He's been part of World Series teams before, too, having caught for the Angels in 2002, so the postseason isn't anything new to him.
Molina is a good handler of pitchers, but his production dipped sharply this season. After averaging 18 homers and 85 RBI from 2007-09, he had just 5 homers and 36 RBI combined with the Giants and Rangers.
Still, as a one-year, stop-gap measure, the Sox could do worse than Molina.
The World Series ended Monday night and already it's been a bizarre offseason for Olivo. On Thursday he was traded by Colorado to Toronto, which then declined Olivo's 2011 option, making him a free agent. (The Blue Jays, the thinking goes, will offer him arbitration and get themselves a draft pick.)
Olivo, like Buck, can probably expect to get more than a one-year deal on the open market. Also like Buck, Olivo supplies decent power. But he has a better arm than Buck, having gunned down 35 percent of baserunners over his career.
Other names of note
Gerald Laird, Rod Barajas.
OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?
THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?
FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?
CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?
BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?