I know I'm a little late to the party, but here's my best shot at competing while not mortgaging farm or tying up too many future assets.
Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
Todd Frazier, $13.5M: tender
Brett Lawrie, $5.1M: tender
Avisail Garcia, $3.5M: tender
Miguel Gonzalez, $2.6M: tender
Dan Jennings, $1.2M: tender
J.B. Shuck, $1M: non-tender
Jake Petricka, $900K: tender
Zach Putnam, $900K: tender
Daniel Webb, $600K: non-tender
I will give Avi this, his consistency is nice. When you know what you’re getting, you can plan accordingly. At only 25 and after missing a vital development year, this might be the year he puts it all together.
Contract options (pick up or buy out)
Matt Albers: $3M for 2017 or a $250,000 buyout
Gotta buy him out. He was just plain bad after April.
Impending free agents (re-sign, let go or qualifying offer)
Austin Jackson: re-sign
Alex Avila: let go
Justin Morneau: let go
Elaborate if needed:
Jackson makes a nice glove first 4th outfielder. Depth is never a bad thing.
Jason Castro, 3 years $18m
It doesn’t matter which way the winds blow, the Sox need a catcher and Castro is the smartest move available. Ramos is going to be too expensive, Wieters probably isn’t going anywhere. Castro combines a slightly below average league bat and a good understanding of wearing the tools of ignorance.
Drew Storen, 1 year $5.5m
He’s a strong groundball pitcher with a track record of being very good (aside from his time in Canada). This is the type of arm the Sox need in the pen.
Doug Fister, 1 year $6m
Crazy? Maybe. Practical? Very. Your walk numbers don’t jump that much without something else being in play. This is an affordable starter and another high GB pitcher. Something a little cheaper but structured similarly to what he had in Houston might be the type of deal he needs to reestablish value.
Eric Young, Jr., MiLB deal w/invite
Pure depth move. Dude can fly, switch hits and plays good defense. If he could sustain .220-.245 he’s a quality 4th OF or September guy.
Jung Ho Kang and Felipe Rivero for Brett Lawrie, Dan Jennings, Courtney Hawkins and PTBNL
I could see the Pirates being loathe to trade away Kang, but with Freese still being quite productive at third, they might be inclined to go with a consistent second baseman to push Sean Rodriguez back to the super utility role he’s better suited for. They’d probably be even more unwilling to part with Rivero for Lt. Dan. The difference maker is Courtney Hawkins. He can mash and may just need a change of scenery or guidance to put it together. May need to eat some of Lawrie’s deal to get the move done, but the rewards are worth it.
Travis Jankowski, Yangervis Solarte and Brad Hand for Carlos Sanchez, Chris Beck, Matt Davidson and Avi Garcia
This is a lopsided move, I’m aware, but stay with me. This is SUCH a Padres move. If they complain about it, point to Shields. Or Rea. Or their spotty reputation and sell it as a "make nice" sort of deal to reestablish some semblance of credibility. Jankowski is a legit center fielder, Solarte is a high average, mid power switch hitter utility guy and Hand is a converted LF starter capable of eating multiple innings. On the Sox side, it cuts a lot of dead weight the Padres can use as decent bench pieces. And Chris Beck fills the gaping hole Shields left. There is a lesson here for AJ Preller to learn; DON’T BE A CON ARTIST D-BAG.
Enrique Hernandez for Leury Garcia, Alfredo Gonzalez and Brandon Brennan
Hernandez is a super utility and proven to be very valuable, he’s coming off a very down season and might be able to be had for a bargain.
Bucket of Balls, Bag of Doritos, FreeDry Cleaning and a Clubhouse Manager to be named later for James Shields
We’re definitely going to have eat his entire salary to balance out the value of the on field product for this one. FreeDry Cleaning is on a multi year deal so maybe recover some costs from that. Or just send Shields to AAA to figure out what he’s doing with his life or what his retirement plans are.
The name of the game plan is depth. Every position has multiple guys capable of starting at each one and being serviceable. I believe you have to be at minimum three deep at catcher since it is such a specialized position. Kevan Smith, Narvaez and Castro fit the bill. On the mound, you’ve gotten your two (higher quality) lefties, a not-James Shields or John Danks starter with some potential for a bounce back year, and deepened the right handed side of the pen with Storen. The cost for all this? Three lower level prospects, a strong prospect stuck at AA, multiple dead weight pieces that don’t fit, one big league reliever and $17m in new money for next year. Not a big price to pay and it doesn’t mortgage the farm nor does it rob Peter to pay Paul. Payroll will come in around $130m on the year, highest in team history unfortunately.
And if it goes horrible awry (again), the pieces to sell are more attractive and can fetch a higher bounty.
Jackson/Engel/Tilson/May (in order)