Soon after the World Series dust had settled, the Red Sox made $14 million qualifying offers to three players: Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury. And soon after that, each player declined to accept said qualifying offer.
So now, all three players are officially free agents and the Red Sox have some decisions to make. Napoli is a priority. Without him, there's a hole at first base and as far as free agent first basemen go, he's a pretty good pick. His season was relatively solid—.259/23/92, but many of those hits were big, timely hits that made a huge impact. Or maybe those are just the ones I remember. I want him back... if only to see what kind of birds nest of a beard he shows up with in spring training.
While Stephen Drew is a great shortstop, I'm ok with him not returning to the team. His play in the postseason was nothing short of masterful as he patrolled the left side of the infield, but his bat left quite a bit to be desired. ESPN reported earlier today that he will not return to Boston because there are a number of teams willing to make multiyear offers beyond anything the Red sox would do. He's a Scott Boras client... and we all know what that means. Plus, I'm sort of looking forward to seeing what young Xander Bogaerts can do at short.
And then there's Jacoby Ellsbury. He came up through the Red Sox system and has been a fixture at the top of the lineup for the past seven seasons. He has compiled some pretty impressive career stats—.297 batting average and he led the American League three times in stolen bases. Naturally, I'm going to miss him when he goes. And he will definitely be gone. Nothing would surprise me more than Ellsbury returning to Boston in 2014. He's more into the wealth than the winning...
It will be interesting to see how the free agent market shakes out. It always is... I don't like to see a team torn apart before the shine of the World Series Championship wears off.