The Boston Red Sox have not been excessively big players in the free agent market this season. The Red Sox have lost the likes of Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the Yankees, and have faded back a bit to both the Yankees and Rays in the off season. With the Red Sox unable to get some of the very big free agents of the season, the Red Sox may settle for some smaller but no less important names. Two of them, John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli, may be Red Sox very soon.
Reports are that both John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli are close to signing deals with the Red Sox. Both of them have very big health risks, but both of them have made names of themselves – Smoltz in particular.
Smoltz made up part of the famed and feared Atlanta Braves rotation of the 1990’s. With Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, Smoltz took the Braves to several World Series and won the Cy Young in 1996. Smoltz even spent time as one of the feared closers in baseball, saving over 150 games from 2001-04.
But Smoltz has been limited in recent years, and only got to pitch six games last year. Shoulder problems resulted in season-ending surgery, and Smoltz is still scheduled to miss the first month or two of 2009.
Whenever Smoltz comes back, he would have a hard time fitting into a rotation and bullpen for the Red Sox. The Sox rotation is already filled with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny. In addition, the Red Sox already have a closer in Jonathan Papelbon. Smoltz may have to settle for being a set up man if there is no room to start or close.
In addition to Smoltz, the Red Sox are also considered close to signing Rocco Baldelli away from their new rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. Baldelli suffered through muscle and fatigue problems that almost ended his career, but he came back this year to help the Rays make the World Series.
Baldelli reportedly found out that he actually suffers from channelopathy, a less serious condition that could allow him to play more this season. If he can, the Red Sox would need him to fill out their outfield.
Baldelli has been on the free agent market all off season, with his fate in Tampa Bay sealed after the Rays signed Pat Burrell as their new DH.
Smoltz is rumored to be saying goodbye to the Braves today, while Baldelli will be in Boston tonight to accept the Tony Conigliaro award.
The Sports Network- “Smoltz heading to Boston” www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx
Boston.com- “Extra Bases: Baldelli close to signing with Red Sox; Smoltz not far behind” www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2009/01/baldelli_close.html