George Springer is a perfect fit for the Red Sox.
Let’s get that out of the way.
He is a right-handed hitter who can play an above-average center field. We could stop right there and it would be a huge step in the right direction for a Sox’ team that is trending toward losing Jackie Bradley Jr.
But there’s more. Springer is a leadoff hitter, an entity the Red Sox don’t really possess. And, by the way, he is a very good leadoff hitter, totaling an .884 in a spot in the lineup he has manned more than any other player in Major League Baseball over the past three seasons (2,013 plate appearances).
He is a clubhouse good guy, and a Connecticut native who went to college in the Nutmeg State.
When it came to how the Red Sox might spend some of their Mookie Money this offseason, Springer wouldn’t be the worse idea.
But it’s not that simple. (It rarely is, right?)
For starters, Springer is 31 years old. When it comes to committing significant free agent contracts to big-name free agents, doing so when the player is already a full year on the wrong side of 30 is a dicey proposition. And make no mistake about it, this is a player who won’t come cheap.
Marcell Ozuna (who is 30) might have put himself in position to close in on Springer when it comes to free agent dollars with his outrageously good 2020 season, but when it comes to free agent position players those two are at the top of the heap.
Then there is how the Red Sox prioritize what will be their prime drafting position.
If the Sox sign any player who receives a qualifying offer (which Springer will), they will be forced to surrender their second-highest draft pick. Assuming Rob Manfred sets the draft order based on 2020 records, the Red Sox will be picking fourth overall, which means a Springer signing would mean forfeiting something in the vicinity of the 41st overall selection.
For a team that is desperately trying build sustainability through the Draft, that isn’t nothing.
"I think it’s just something you have to make sure you’re factoring in," said Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. "I wouldn’t ever rule it out, but I think you always have to make sure you’re valuing every aspect of any potential move."
And finally one has to look at how it might impact the organization's top outfield prospects.
Jarren Duran seems on the cusp of contributing at the big-league level, although his left-handed bat doesn't help balance an outfield already consisting of lefty hitters Alex Verdugo and Andrew Benintendi.
The next top two outfield hopefuls in the Sox' minors are Gilberto Jimenez and newly-acquired Jeisson Rosario, both of whom might actually enter the big-league conversation for the 2022 season at their current rate. They are also share the same skill-set, with their games predicated on speed.
It's not to say you don't commit to a player like Springer because of unproven prospects, but such issues have to be considered when locking in on the type of salary the free agent outfielder will command.
And none of this includes the uncertainty regarding exactly how much money the Red Sox will be comfortable paying out in the free agent market with the economics of baseball being as uncertain as they are.
In another year, in another world, Springer to the Red Sox makes all the sense in the world. But this is this year and this world making sense of anything -- particularly baseball free agency -- isn't exactly a easy proposition.