For weeks, the Red Sox have been connected to both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, with some industry experts predicting that Boston would land one -- if not both -- of the coveted free agents.Monday, the Red Sox re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year deal worth a reported
For weeks, the Red Sox have been connected to both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, with some industry experts predicting that Boston would land one -- if not both -- of the coveted free agents.
Monday, the Red Sox re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year deal worth a reported $13 million, seemingly taking them out of play for Hosmer in the process.
So what does this mean for the Red Sox? Moreland is a nice player -- he's hit 22 or 23 home runs in four of the past five seasons, including 22 for the Sox in 2017 -- but he's not likely to be the big move in a Boston lineup that ranked last in the American League in homers.
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Moreland also isn't the response the baseball world has been waiting for since the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton. Martinez would fit that description, adding a powerful bat that hit 45 home runs last season for the Tigers and D-backs.
"They really like J.D.," one source said of the Red Sox's interest in the free-agent slugger.
So what exactly does the Moreland signing mean for the Red Sox going forward?
Red Sox are out on Hosmer
Hosmer seemed like the best fit for the Red Sox, because his signing would have added a bat to the lineup while shifting Hanley Ramirez from first base to full-time designated hitter.
But Boston appears more interested in adding thump than anything else, and while Hosmer has a nice all-around bat, he doesn't possess the raw power that Martinez does. Assuming, of course, that the Red Sox sign Martinez.
Hosmer still has plenty of suitors, with the Padres and Royals leading the way. Two industry sources said Monday they expect San Diego to turn up the heat to try to get Hosmer signed before Christmas.
J.D. the next major move for Boston?
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski did his best to play it cool Monday, telling reporters that he "would feel comfortable" if his team went into Spring Training with the lineup as it's currently constructed.
"Right now, we're in a position that we could go forward as we are now," Dombrowski said. "I think there's a lot of things to be done in the industry between now and Spring Training; we'll keep abreast of what those things are and see if we can still help ourselves."
That felt like a message to agents -- Scott Boras, in particular -- that he's not about to get held up in free-agent negotiations. The Red Sox have enough players to field a lineup right now, and given that they won the AL East last season despite the underperformance of several key players, they're just fine going back with the same crew.
"I do believe a lot of our people will do better internally than last year," Dombrowski said. "We are looking to improve it, but I feel comfortable."
Of course, nobody is buying what Dombrowski is selling. From the moment the Yankees dealt for Stanton, the baseball world has been bracing for the Red Sox response. Some believed it would be Hosmer, others Martinez. Some thought it could be both.
Hosmer appears to be off the table thanks to the Moreland signing, but Martinez could be getting fitted for his new Red Sox uniform any day now. However, the D-backs and Giants would likely be Boston's biggest competition for Martinez.
Where would Martinez play?
This is where things get interesting. Dombrowski recently said he has no plans to trade center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., though plans can always change. Asked Monday whether the Red Sox could still add another bat without trading a player, Dombrowski said, "I think we could."
The Giants, Royals and Cubs could be potential landing spots for Bradley if he's traded. But if he stays put and the Red Sox sign another bat -- Martinez, presumably -- where would Martinez play?
The easy answer is DH, leaving Ramirez to share first-base duties with an occasional turn as the DH if Martinez spells an outfielder.
Ramirez will be nearly impossible to trade thanks to his $22 million contract and vesting option, though Moreland's return means the Red Sox are unlikely to have to worry about that option, which guarantees Ramirez another $22 million for 2019 if he makes 503 plate appearances next season.