Jason Bay? Nope.
Matt Holliday? Pass.
The Boston Red Sox balked at the sticker price on the two marquee left fielders on the market and went a different route by reportedly signing veteran center fielder Mike Cameron.
The signing—which is currently pending a physical—further solidifies the end of the Jason Bay era in Boston and by all accounts should spell the end of any more Matt Holliday to Boston rumors.
It also shows that the Red Sox, after reportedly signing ace John Lackey earlier today, are making a commitment to pitching and defense going forward. A decision that contrasts Boston’s rival, the recently re-stocked powerhouse New York Yankees.
Cameron and the Red Sox have reportedly reached an agreement on a two-year deal worth roughly $15.5 million.
Cameron, 36, is an elite defender in center field and has three Gold Glove Awards to his name as a result.
It isn’t yet known if the Sox will use Cameron in center or left, but given last year’s low defensive ratings of incumbent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, it would make sense to move Ellsbury to left and allow Cameron to roam center at Fenway Park.
Throughout his big league career Cameron has played 1,699 games in center field, 139 games in right, and just three in left field. He did, however, express a willingness to shift to a corner spot earlier this offseason in an attempt to entice more suitors.
Cameron brings much more to the table than just his glove.
He is a .250/.340/.448 career hitter with 265 home runs in 15 seasons spent with the White Sox, Reds, Mariners, Padres, Mets, and the Brewers.
Over the past four years he has averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBI to go with 16 stolen bases per season.
Cameron could thrive moving from Milwaukee’s spacious Miller Park to the more hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park.
Cameron also has a reputation for being an upstanding clubhouse presence and a mentor to younger players.
He figures to have a profound impact on Ellsbury who is very talented and has a flair for the dramatic plays. Ellsbury also has a reputation of getting bad reads and taking poor routes to balls, both of which impacted his defensive decline last season.
The Cubs, Braves, Padres, and Mariners were all rumored to have interest in Cameron.
Chicago had waited to pursue Cameron until the club was able to clear salary by moving outfielder Milton Bradley and Seattle was reportedly preoccupied trying to sign the aforementioned Jason Bay.
Undoubtedly, their loss is the Red Sox gain as the club continues to stockpile talent in one of the busiest days of the offseason.
Cameron will no doubt prove to be a great acquisition for the Red Sox and at a substantially more reasonable price than Bay or Holliday would have required.