Carter would give Red Sox true slugger they need

Carter would give Red Sox true slugger they need

BOSTON -- As presently constituted, the Red Sox have a balanced roster that looks good enough to win the American League East. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has noted a few times that he doesn't feel a "driving force" to make any more acquisitions. But that doesn't necessarily mean he won't.

If you look at the Red Sox, perhaps the biggest thing they lack is a true slugger.

In case you missed it, that guy retired at the end of last season. And, at this point, it would be a major surprise if David Ortiz changes his mind and decides to come back -- something he's not even eligible to do until June.

Hot Stove Tracker

Saying Papi will make a comeback would seem to be a preposterous prediction.

But how about a legitimately bold prediction?

Perhaps Dombrowski sees Chris Carter's powerful right-handed bat on the free-agent market for one day too long and ultimately decides to bring him to Boston -- where he could put more than a few dents in the Green Monster, while also taking aim at cars in the parking lot on Lansdowne Street.

It isn't every day that someone who tied for the National League lead with 41 homers becomes a free agent. But that's exactly what happened when the Brewers non-tendered Carter in late November. It marked the first time in history a home run champ had been non-tendered.

The Brewers tried to trade Carter before releasing him, but couldn't find a partner.

Carter's 449-ft. homer

Carter stood to make about $8.1 million if the Brewers had kept him. This all means that any team -- including the Red Sox -- could probably get him at a reasonable price and without the double-edged sword of having to cough up a compensatory Draft pick.

It is for that very reason that there's at least a chance the Red Sox could make a late-winter push for Carter.

The same isn't true for Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo, two thumpers who were extended qualifying offers and would therefore require Draft compensation from any team that signs them.

How could the Red Sox finagle first baseman Carter into their lineup?

He would likely have to rotate with Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland for two spots (first base, designated hitter) in the lineup. Carter has some left-field experience in his background, but Boston already has a solid duo (Andrew Benintendi and Chris Young) lined up there.

Signing Carter at this stage of the offseason wouldn't be a perfect fit. But to get a hitter with 40-homer power, it might be worth it.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.