As first reported by Ken Rosenthal, it appears the Red Sox have signed former Giants playoff hero Cody Ross to a one year deal worth around 3 million dollars. Now, we laughed and laughed when the 31 year old asked for a three year deal, but that doesn't mean that he can't be a valuable pick up. All offseason Red Sox fans have been clamoring for a right handed bat to provide outfield depth, and Cherington and company got just that in Ross.
Ross is relatively well-known for going on a tear for about an 8-week period for the Giants in 2010 when they won the World Series. However, get those memories out of your head, because he's just not that good. He is not great at drawing walks, although in 2011 he drew walks a career-high 10.6%, up from his career 7.3% mark. This may reflect a change of philosophy, but regression is still to be expected. He also strikes out a little more than the league average, but not at too damaging of a rate. He hits for above average power, posting a career .195 ISO, with a .165 ISO last season. All in all, offensively, Ross is about average, with the potential to be a little above average. Coming from the right side of the plate, that is very valuable depth, especially considering his .384 wOBA and 135 wRC+ against lefties, compared to .317 and 91 vs. righties.
Defensively, Ross can play all outfield positions, but is clearly better suited for the corner spots. He will likely start the season playing some left field, with Crawford possibly still recovering from wrist surgery. UZR ranks him as a slightly worse than average left fielder, while DRS says he's slightly above average. It would be safe to expect about league average defense in left field. Once Crawford returns, watch for him to platoon with the newly acquired Ryan Sweeney in right. Once again, UZR is more down on him in right than DRS, but league average or slightly above would be a safe bet from Ross in right. Once Ryan Kalish returns, it seems Darnell McDonald will be the odd man out. Even when Crawford returns, he will be the fifth outfielder behind Crawford, Ellsbury, Sweeney and Ross, who produces better than McDonald in just about every facet of the game.
For only three million dollars on a one year deal, Ross is just the type of low-risk deal the team needed to make for a right handed outfield bat. At the start of the offseason, I was clamoring for Josh Willingham, but it seemed the patience showed by the front office got them a valuable bat at a cheap price. Another positive from signing Ross to such a cheap deal is that there is still money available to pick up the starting pitcher they so desperately need. Signing Roy Oswalt out of free agency still seems like the most likely scenario to me, while trading for Gavin Floyd of the White Sox still remains a distinct possibility. Whichever route they go, Cody Ross signing for a cheap contract while providing solid value is a big part of the team being able to do so.