Now that another division title is securely wrapped up and we have a week before we can begin to put our Redsux demons to rest, why not yet another arm-chair GM post about what to do with our impending free agents? This much seems obvious: the team will likely sign just one of Abreu or Vlad, and will attempt to sign Lackey but will probably settle for a lesser, more affordable starter. That leaves the best lead off man in baseball in 2009 as probably the toughest decision the Ninja will have to make this offseason.
The pros and cons of resigning Figgy have been well covered on this site all season long. We shouldn't sign him because he's in his 30's and having a career year in his walk year. Oh, and he would continue to block everyone's favorite prospect, Richard B. Wood, who is out of options starting next season. Of course, not resigning him would leave a gaping hole at the top of our order, with no one in the organization ready to step in. There is nothing to be found in the free agent market, either, unless you happen to be a Johnny Damon fan.
So if the team decides that a life without Figgy is no life at all and pays up to keep him in Halo Red for another 4 years or so (and I don't think he'll decline the way some seem to feel he will), what do we do with Wood? I suppose making him the center of a package for a front line starter is one option, but then we'd be bumping the payroll into a realm that Arte is not comfortable with while completely emptying our prospect cupboard. Another popular solution on this site would be to stick Wood at third and move Figgy to the outfield, where his speed should automatically make him a decent fielder. I have issues with this for two reasons. One, Chone already played out there a few years ago. If memory serves me correctly, he did not look very comfortable. The fact that Scioscia hasn't put him in the outfield even once since then should tell you what he thinks of his play out there. Two, Chone has become one of the top 5 defensive 3rd basemen in the game, both according to our eyes and all the fancy new defensive stats (and even the old ones). If they are going to pay a premium for his services, wouldn't it be best to keep him in the position that allows him to contribute the most? Aybar and Figgins might give us the best defensive left side in the majors.
I'm not sure if this has been mentioned here before, but why not give Wood a crack at left field next year? If a guy is athletic enough to play short, I don't see why he couldn't develop into a decent corner outfielder, or even a very good one. I think we all know he'd be a pretty good third basemen, but its highly unlikely he'd reach Figgy levels. He already lost his positional leverage when he moved off of short; you expect essentially the same offense from a third basemen or a left fielder. We have no serious outfield prospects that will be ready next year and neither Bay nor Holliday will be worth what their asking. Move Juan to right, resign Vlad or Bobby to DH, and let Wood finally get his ab's while filling our void for a young outfielder. Is this crazy enough to work?