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Thinking Outside the Batter's Box: Boston's big signings of Sandoval, Ramirez, demonstrate new aggressive nature of Sox

Thinking Outside The Batter’s Box is a blog about baseball published every week.

Thinking Outside The Batter's Box is a blog about baseball published every week.
Thinking Outside The Batter’s Box is a blog about baseball published every week.

by Jacob Gurvis
It may only be November, but the Red Sox are back.
Am I being a bit premature?
Probably. But given the fact that in the span of 24 hours, the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to a five year deal and Hanley Ramirez to a four year deal (with a fifth year option), it’s safe to say that the fire is back. That aggressiveness is a welcomed sight in Boston. No more wimpy deals to washed out veterans. The Sox are going for broke. And it’s a wonderful sight.
Over the last few years, the Red Sox (mainly just principal owner John Henry) have adopted the philosophy that players over 30 should never get long-term deals. Before 2013, they handed out 3 year/$39 million deals to Ryan Dempster and Shane Victorino, and also signed Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli. All four played big roles in the championship campaign, that’s for sure, but none of them got big dollars or were particularly flashy or exciting players. Ever since the Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez fiasco (7 years/$142 million for Crawford, 7 years/$154 million for Gonzalez), the Sox brass has avoided throwing money at “exciting players,” and that’s probably for the best.
That said, it’s time to rid the dread and apathy from the Boston Red Sox and Red Sox Nation. It’s time for people to care about the Red Sox again. By signing Sandoval and Ramirez, arguably the two best offensive free agents on the market, some life has been brought back to the organization. Two exciting, very talented players will be now be wearing Red Sox uniforms for the next five years.
So if Sandoval will play third base, and Xander Bogaerts is at short, where will Ramirez play? These moves are by no means the end of the Sox’s offseason plan. Ramirez has said that he is open to playing any position, and while he is not a good defender, he will reportedly be playing left field, which means that Yoenis Cespedes will be dealt. At first I was not too keen on the idea of trading Cespedes, but now with Hanley and Pablo, and Cespedes’ unwillingness to move positions and/or sign an extension, I see the upside.
By signing both Ramirez and Sandoval, the Red Sox have accomplished two important things (obviously in addition to signing two very good players and filling the hole at third). One, is that they now set up Cespedes to be dealt for a pitcher, potentially Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, or others.
The other thing, which will remain to be seen, is that these moves could entice Jon Lester to return. Lester has a 6 year/$110-120 million deal on the table from the Sox, and they are willing to negotiate and possibly raise the offer. During the 2014 season, Lester said he is willing to take a hometown discount to stay in Boston. $120 million may still be not enough, but now with two very good, very exciting players added to the roster, Boston is a more attractive destination for a free agent. Hopefully Lester sees it the same way.
By inking both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to deals, the Red Sox are finally showing the sort of desire and aggression that has been missing the last couple years. Sure, they may be slightly overpaying for these guys, but that’s just the nature of the market. And doesn’t the idea of a lineup of Betts, Pedroia, Ortiz, Sandoval, Ramirez, Napoli, Castillo, Bogaerts, and Vasquez sound pretty great?
All we need is Lester to come to his senses and re-sign. Then we’ll be all set.

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