After Scott Boras and Jayson Werth collectively thumbed their noses at Major League front offices everywhere, the Boston Red Sox seem to be out of the running for Carl Crawford, in part because his asking price will now be nearly the same as recently-acquired Adrian Gonzalez's, if not more.
In addition, Crawford's left-handed bat wouldn't be a great addition to a Red Sox' lineup now replete with them (Jacoby Ellsbury, Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Ryan Kalish and J.D. Drew are all strictly lefties, and Jed Lowrie, Jason Varitek and Jarrod Salalamacchia are switch-hitters -- Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are the only right-handed bats slated into the Sox' opening day lineup), which may push Boston in a different direction while it seeks outfield help, according to FOXSports' Ken Rosenthal.
Rosenthal suggests that Washington OF Josh Willingham (.268/.389/.459 last season with 16 HR and 56 RBI in 114 games) may be a good fit in a trade, as the Nationals have suggested that they'd make him available. Willingham, 31, is arbitration-eligible for the 2011 season, and is a free agent after that.
Rosenthal also notes that at least one source caught wind of the mention that Youkilis, who has played left field for Boston on rare occasion, could be moved there if the Red Sox make a bid for Adrian Beltre to return at third base. While a lineup of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ortiz, Beltre, DrewVaritek/Saltalamacchia, Lowrie could absoultely brutalize opposing pitching, it's unlikely that the Red Sox will bite on Beltre's demands -- rumored to be five years for $85 million -- especially since Youkilis is a liability in the outfield.
Either way, with money to spare after landing Gonzalez at about $6 million for the 2011 campaign, expect the Red Sox to make at least one more big acquisition, but don't be surprised if it comes in the bullpen and not the field. Rumor has it that Hideki Okajima is open to a return to Boston and that there is "some" interest in the team retaining their left-handed specialist, but former Angels lefthanded closer Brian Fuentes is also on their radar.
A couple key cogs in the bullpen and another right-handed bat could go a long way to making Boston a very serious pennant contender in 2011. Will John Henry and Larry Lucchino keep the wallet open to make sure it happens? Stay tuned.