While the team has taken care of arguably its two biggest issues this offseason—finding a new manager and bringing back David Ortiz—Ross, in the eyes of many Red Sox fans, should be considered just as important.
In a tweet by ESPN's Buster Olney, Ross' asking price with the Red Sox was made public:
In Cody Ross's talks with the Red Sox, his side was looking for something in the 3-year, $25 million range.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 6, 2012
Last season, a player comparable to Ross in Josh Willingham signed a three-year deal worth $21 million with the Minnesota Twins.
Ross, while only signing for $3 million with the Red Sox, was looking to boost his value on the free-agent market after coming off a less than impressive 2011 season with the San Francisco Giants.
He did just that.
Over the course of the 2012 season, Ross increased all of his offensive numbers across the board:
In comparison, Willingham posted 135 hits, 35 home runs, 110 RBI and a .260/.366/.524/.890 line for the Twins.
With that in mind, it is fairly reasonable to understand why the Red Sox would be timid in offering Ross more money than Willingham for less production.
However, there is something to be said about the intangibles required to play in Boston. Ross has shown that he can handle it there.
More than that, he is a calming voice in the clubhouse and a great leader of men.
WEEI.com's Alex Speier spoke with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington on the subject of signing Ross, and this is what he had to say:
We’ve had a number of conversations. Obviously we’re into free agency now. We didn’t sign him before that started. The door will remain open, and we’ll continue to talk, but once we’re in free agency, he’s got opportunities to talk to other teams, and we fully expect him to do that. Going back to last fall when I first talked to Cody about coming here, the goal obviously was to do well as a team, but part of the goal was to put him in a better position. I felt it could put him in a better position by coming here and performing in this ballpark. The good news is that it did. That’s to his credit. He’s in a good position now. It makes it tougher to sign him. We’ll keep the door open. We’ll keep talking. At the same time, we’ve got to consider alternatives, too.
The question then becomes: What exactly are those alternatives?
In the farm system, there are players like Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava, both of whom have performed well from time to time but have not necessarily proven themselves as everyday players.
Then there's Bryce Brentz or Jackie Bradley Jr., who are not slated to be major league ready for at least another season, maybe slightly longer.
On the free-agent market, the Red Sox could target players like Torii Hunter or perhaps Melky Cabrera for a short-term deal, but why not stick with what works?
The best example of "letting one get away" has to be Adrian Beltre. The team brought him in for a one-year deal, allowed him to depart in free agency and now has to watch him play MVP-caliber baseball.
While I'm not suggesting Ross is going to be an MVP anytime soon, what I am suggesting is sticking with the pieces that Boston knows already work for the team, while trying to develop some of its younger talent along the way.
Is that too much to ask?