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Sox focus on J.D., Hosmer as FA market moves

Santana's agreement with Phillies could intensify Boston's quest for impact bat
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The Red Sox still haven't landed their coveted bat this offseason, but the free-agent market finally moved on Friday.

The Phillies and slugger Carlos Santana agreed to terms on a three-year, $60 million contract, sources told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The deal hasn't been announced yet.

BOSTON -- The Red Sox still haven't landed their coveted bat this offseason, but the free-agent market finally moved on Friday.

The Phillies and slugger Carlos Santana agreed to terms on a three-year, $60 million contract, sources told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The deal hasn't been announced yet.

Video: Justice on Santana signing with Phillies on High Heat

Once it is official, Santana will become the first accomplished run producer to sign this offseason, though a couple, such as Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, have moved in trades.

What does this mean for the Red Sox? Mainly, that their focus will intensify even a little more on J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, the best bats available in free agency.

Hot Stove Tracker

In Boston's original blueprint, if Martinez was Plan A and Hosmer was Plan B, Santana was probably Plan C.

Santana's decision to go to the Phils brings to mind comments that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made a couple of days ago at the Winter Meetings when speaking on the dilemma of how long to wait on a certain target while risking that another could disappear.

"That's a great question, and I don't know the answer, frankly, because it's something that we talk about all the time," Dombrowski said. "And I think it's based upon feel and pulse and where you think the market is and when you need to make a decision, rather than when you might have to make a decision. And it does factor in. It does factor in, the waiting aspect of it."

Video: Dombrowski discusses pursuit of big bat

The Boston Herald reported Thursday that the Red Sox are trying to sign both Martinez and Hosmer. However, Dombrowski has stated numerous times this offseason -- including earlier this week -- that his plan is to acquire one bat because he only has one spot available in the lineup.

If Dombrowski did alter his previous stance and make a bold play for Martinez and Hosmer, the Red Sox would likely have to find a new home for designated hitter Hanley Ramirez, who is owed $22 million in 2018. Ramirez also has an option at that price for '19 that will vest if he gets 554 plate appearances in the coming season.

While Dombrowski keeps tabs on Martinez and Hosmer, he can do so while checking in with just one agent. Scott Boras represents both of those players.

The right-handed-hitting Martinez would give the Red Sox the pure slugger they've lacked since the retirement of David Ortiz. He smashed 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season. Martinez would have to spend quite a bit of time at DH for a Boston team that has an outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Video: ARI@LAD Gm1: Martinez smacks a solo homer down line

The left-handed-hitting Hosmer is more of a pure hitter, but he hit 25 homers in each of the past two seasons. He has an opposite-field stroke that could play well in Fenway, and he is considered to be one of the better clubhouse leaders in the game.

Video: MIN@KC: Hosmer jacks a solo shot to right field

Who are some other free-agent options if the Red Sox don't get Martinez or Hosmer?

Logan Morrison ripped a career-high 38 homers last season for the Rays. Yonder Alonso had 28 homers and an .866 OPS while splitting 2017 between the Athletics and the Mariners. Lucas Duda went deep 30 times for the Mets and Rays and had an .818 OPS.

Martinez and Hosmer are clearly a cut above the alternatives, so all signs continue to point to the Red Sox putting their efforts into the addition of at least one of them. Aside from keeping in contact with Boras, Boston will try to size up which teams it is in competition with for the hitters it covets most.

"Well, you do your best job to try to find that information out," Dombrowski said. "I think you make, hopefully, educated guesses on that. But I don't think you ever really know that totally, because it's just like their people don't share that information with you. But I think, again, you do your homework and try to have the best pulse as possible."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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