The New York Yankees set the Hot Stove completely ablaze this weekend with the announcement that they had agreed to a deal with the Miami Marlins for the newly crowned National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. With one of the most powerful teams in baseball becoming even stronger the onus now falls on the rest of the league to counter and try to keep pace with the “Bronx Bombers.”
The Los Angeles Angels added some sizzle of their own so far this offseason, re-signing outfielder Justin Upton, as well as the much coveted two-way Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. The Seattle Mariners also bolstered their lineup by adding the speedy Dee Gordon via trade from the Marlins. However, the Yankees’ chief rival, the Boston Red Sox, have yet to make any significant move so far this offseason. That could change once the dust settles after the monumental Giancarlo Stanton trade.
According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Boston Red Sox are showing interest in free agents J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, as well as the Cubs’ first baseman/outfielder Kyle Schwarber. The Red Sox have been lacking in true power ever since famed slugger David Ortiz retired at the end of the 2016 season. All three of these names would provide a much needed pop to their lineup, but the Red Sox will have to choose what permutation of these three hitters makes the most sense to pursue.
J.D. Martinez is the next best power hitter available on the open market now that Giancarlo Stanton has been traded to New York. Martinez swatted a total of 45 home runs last season, splitting time between Detroit and Arizona. He also slashed .303/.376/.690 with an OPS of 1.066, which was a career high for him. Martinez has established himself as a legitimate power threat from the right side of the plate, something that many teams find themselves yearning for this offseason.
His numbers and his track record make him an extremely attractive option for any team looking to add power to their lineup. What could, perhaps, dissuade teams from pursuing Martinez is the fact that he just turned 30 years old this past August, and he will undoubtedly be seeking at least a 4-5 year deal worth upwards of $200 million. His contract demands could be pricey but there is no denying the immediate impact a true power hitter like Martinez can make on an already well-built Red Sox lineup.
Signing Martinez would mean that the Red Sox would have to make room in their already crowded outfield. The most likely candidate to be shipped off would be Jackie Bradley Jr. since the Red Sox place more value in their rising stars in the corner outfield spots, Andrew Bennintendi and Mookie Betts. Martinez, along with Boston’s young sluggers such as Bennintendi, Betts, and Devers, is the closest the Red Sox could hope to come to challenging the Yankees’ formidable lineup.
Eric Hosmer is another attractive option for a Red Sox team with an opening at the first base position. Hosmer, 28, enjoyed another fine season in 2017 as he cracked 25 home runs for just the second time in his career while slashing .318/.385/.498 with an OPS of .882, all of which were career highs for him.
While Hosmer does not provide the absolute power of someone like J.D. Martinez he does bring a steady, consistent left-handed bat and masterful defense at first base. Hosmer has won a Gold Glove award 4 times in his brief 7-year career so far. His contract demands may not be as astronomical as those of J.D. Martinez, but Hosmer will not come cheap.
The Red Sox would still likely be looking at having to invest 4-5 years and approximately $15-20 million per year. With Hanley Ramirez looking to become a full-time DH it would behoove the Red Sox to fill the vacant first base position with a consistent, professional hitter like Eric Hosmer.
The final name mentioned on this list, Kyle Schwarber, is a bit unexpected and, quite frankly, the least realistic option for the Red Sox. The 24-year-old Schwarber came back from a massive ACL injury he suffered the year prior and played in a total of 129 games last season.
He hit 30 home runs but slashed a paltry .211/.315/.467 with an OPS of just .782 in 2017. Not only are his numbers less impressive than those of Martinez and Hosmer but Schwarber would have to be acquired via trade should the Red Sox want him.
Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ brass are extremely high on Schwarber’s potential, so it would take quite a ransom to pry him away from Chicago. The Red Sox are low on trade assets, and Schwarber’s inconsistent and unreliable start to his career makes him too much of a risk to trade way the few prospects Boston has left.
The Giancarlo Stanton trade sent shockwaves through the baseball universe, but the free agent class of 2017 is still deep and filled with impact players that can help any team. The Red Sox need to respond to what their biggest rival just pulled off, and they have the money and the motivation to do just that.