Free agency overview: First base

Free agency overview: First base

By Sean McAdam

Here is a look at the Red Sox' options at first base. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.

Youkilis is expected to be fully recovered from thumb surgery, which cut short his year in August, and has signaled a willingness to play either corner infield spot -- so long as he doesn't have to move back and forth between the two during the season.

There's no shortage of possible first-base options on the market. And remember, with Adrian Gonzalez headeded for free agency after 2011 -- to say nothing of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder -- the Sox might be wise to have Youkilis move to third permanently and concentrate on a short-term fix at first. Then they could either open their checkbook and sign one of the premium first basemen next winter, or see if top prospect Anthony Rizzo is ready to take over the position in 2012.

FREE AGENT TARGETSPaul Konerko is the best of the potential free agents, but because he'll be seeking a multiyear deal for serious dollars (and will turn 35 in March), we're ruling him out of the running here. Same for Adam Dunn, who as a first baseman remains a pretty good DH.

Adam LaRocheLaRoche is seemingly forever linked to the Red Sox. He was obtained in a deal with Pittsburgh at midseason in 2008, only to be sent off at the deadline when the Sox got Casey Kotchman. Then, last summer, with Youkilis out and the Sox not getting much production at the position, they gave thought to bringing backLaRoche at the Aug. 31 deadline to acquire players who would be eligible for the postseason, a move which was ruled out as they drifted further from contention.

LaRoche enjoyed his time here and would have an interest in returning. But after a career-high 100 RBI with Arizona last season, will he settle for a one-year deal?
Carlos Pena
Pena could well be this year's Adrian Beltre - a player who takes a short-term deal with the hopes of having a bounceback season, then returning to the market again the following winter. He had decent production for the Rays (28 homers, 84 RBI) but his average was an embarrassing .196 and even his slugging percentage was off sharply (.407, down from .537 the season before).

Pena was here before, of course, and has local roots, having played at Northeastern and grown up in Haverhill. His play at first has dipped some, but he's hardly a liability.

One potential problem: if the Sox are fortunate enough to land Crawford and then add Pena at first, they would have five everyday regulars who are left-handed (Crawford, Pena, Ellsbury, Drew and Ortiz).

Lyle OverbayLike LaRoche, Overbay was on the Red Sox' watch list in August as a potential late-season pickup before an injury took him out of consideration.

Overbay has less power than the other candidates, having never hit more than 22 homers and failing to collect as many as 70 RBI in any of the previous four seasons. He's more of a doubles-hitting first baseman, and is adequate at first. But, at 34, Overbay is more likely to agree to a one-year deal than, say, LaRoche.

Other names of noteDerrek Lee, Ty Wigginton.

OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?

THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?

FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?

CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?

BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?

SeanMcAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.