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News

Red Sox Offseason Preview

January 12, 2018

With free agency looming, the Red Sox have been linked to a number of big names.  They had a good season last year but there are still holes to fill.

Offseason Needs

  • First Base – Mitch Moreland played first base for the red sox last year, and he performed just fine. He had lots of doubles along with 22 home runs, but his batting average was a weak .246.  The sox decided not to make a qualifying offer to Moreland, but they could still elect to bring him back as a cheaper option if they strike out with the big name free agents.  They also have Hanley Ramirez under contract for one more year.  Hanley spent most of last year as the designated hitter but he proved to be an adequate defensive first baseman in 2016.  The Red Sox are reportedly open to signing a big hitter who does not play first base and sliding Hanley back into that role.
  • Power Hitting – David Ortiz retired in 2016 as the primary power hitter for the Red Sox and they were not able to fill his role last season. They hit very few home runs in a year where home runs were being hit at a record pace across the league.  Their number one priority seems to be finding a bat for the middle of the lineup, and Dave Dombrowski has proven that he is not afraid to make the big time moves, for better or worse.  Ideally, they can sign a power hitting first baseman and kill two birds with one stone.
  • Starting Pitching – Chris Sale turned out to be a great addition last year finishing second in AL Cy Young Award voting. Drew Pomerantz was also solid throughout the year as a consistent six-inning pitcher.  David Price was great as a long reliever in the playoffs but he missed most of the year and he was not pitching too well before he got hurt.  The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello fell from glory in 2017 and pitched terribly all year long, tallying up 17 losses. The 5th starting pitcher role rotated between Eduardo Rodriguez and Doug Fister. Both of these players had losing records and ERAs above four last year.  The power-hitting issues are probably more important than the starting pitching issues, especially considering teams use a 3-4 man pitching rotations in the playoffs.  I think they should spend their big money on a bat and bring in a legitimate 4th starter to sure up the back end of the rotation.

Players 

Trade Market:

Giancarlo Stanton

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

28

159

.281

59

132

168

32

0

.376

.631

1.007

This guy had one of the best power-hitting seasons in the history of the league, falling just short of 60 home runs and taking home his first NL MVP Award.  He would obviously fill the biggest hole for the Red Sox, but Stanton is not a free agent.  Coming off of his best season, it would take quite a haul of assets to acquire the reigning MVP.  The Sox would likely have to include AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Andrew Benintendi or promising late season call up Rafael Devers along with a rotational player such as Jackie Bradley Jr.  Is bringing in Stanton a better option than signing one of the other free agents?  That is a legitimate question.  It is also in question whether he would even consider playing for Boston.  Stanton has a no-trade clause in his contract, and it was recently reported that the Marlins slugger would not agree to a trade to the Red Sox.  Stanton may not be a legitimate option for Boston, but there has been so much commotion about him lately that he had to be on this list.

Jose Abreu

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

31

156

.304

33

102

189

43

6

.354

.552

0.906

Jose Abreu has hit at least 25 home runs, 100 RBIs, and batted at least .290 in all four of his MLB seasons.  I would be happy to trade for him and get his worst season.  There have not been as many rumblings about Abreu being traded, but the White Sox are openly rebuilding their roster with young players, and the Red Sox have always been huge fans of Abreu.  He also happens to play at their position of greatest need.  Boston was very close to acquiring Abreu out of Cuba when he first came into the majors but the front office didn’t pull the trigger.  Abreu went on to become an all-star in his first season and the Red Sox tried to make up for missing out on him by signing Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a ridiculous deal.  It would likely cost fewer prospects to acquire Abreu than Stanton because he is a couple years older and he is not coming off of a historic season.  The Red Sox should thoroughly look into the possibility of trading for Abreu, and they should not be afraid to sign him to a fairly expensive contract extension. 

Free Agency:

Eric Hosmer

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

28

162

.318

25

94

192

31

1

.385

.498

.882

Eric Hosmer was a big part of the 2015 World Series Champion Royals as well as the 2014 American League Champion Royals.  Since then, he has posted his two best statistical seasons.  Hosmer is also a four-time gold glove award winner at first base.  His playoff experience would certainly be useful for a team desperate for positive leadership.  Just recently turning 28 years old, Hosmer should be in his prime for quite a while.  The only worry I have with Hosmer is the size of the contract he may demand.  There is a chance that Hosmer demands a 6 or 7-year contract.  He is a very good player and he would help the Red Sox right away, but there is a decent chance that he could hit 22 home runs with a .260 average, and that production would not be a significant upgrade over what Mitch Moreland provided last season.  I would definitely be in favor of a 4-5 year deal with the Kansas City first baseman, but they would probably be setting themselves up for disappointment on the back end of a longer contract.  A reasonably priced and relatively short contract with Hosmer would be a great boost for the team.

Carlos Santana

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

31

154

.259

23

79

148

37

3

.363

.455

.818

Similar to Hosmer, Santana has been on some very successful teams in recent years.  Arguably his best year came in 2016 when he belted 34 home runs on the Indians team that lost a heartbreaking game 7 of the World Series.  This year his Indians set an all-time record with 22 consecutive wins in the regular season.  Now he is on the open market and he is expected to have many suitors.  Santana was a catcher who turned into first baseman, but his ability to play the position is not in doubt because he has spent multiple seasons as the starting first baseman for a title contender.  Three and a half year older than Hosmer, with a lower batting average and fewer defensive accolades, Santana should not draw the same monster contract.   I would love to bring in Santana on a three-year deal or shorter.  It is worth noting that many sports books have given the Red Sox the best odds to sign Hosmer and Santana, so these two are the most likely additions.

Logan Morrison

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

30

145

.246

38

85

126

22

1

.353

.516

0.868

Logan Morrison is another first baseman free agent, and he seems to be getting less attention than some of the others.  His 38 home runs last season would have been a huge boost to the Red Sox, but his career home run rate is much lower at 23 home runs per 162 games.  Morrison could certainly be an upgrade over Mitch Moreland, but I would be nervous to see him sign a long-term contract with the Red Sox because of his low career batting average, and his small sample size of success.

J.D. Martinez

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

30

119

.303

45

104

131

26

3

.376

.690

1.066

Take a peek at the games played stat.  That right, this guy actually hit 45 home runs and drove in 104 runs while missing 43 games.  This season was his best, but it is not a fluke.  His career batting average is .285, and he boasts career 162 game averages of 32 home runs and 100 RBIs.  In my opinion, he is the most proven power hitting batter in this year’s free agent class.  Martinez has a great combination of power and average, unlike most of the free agents on this list.  Although he has never made a championship run, he was one of the leaders on a good playoff team this season.  The piece of Martinez that does not fit the Red Sox puzzle is his position.  He has played outfield his entire career, so he would likely be signing with the Red Sox as a designated hitter.  Martinez has also had injury issues, but taking him off the field and keeping his role behind the plate would likely extend his career.  With these numbers and his consistency in recent years, I would have no issue with the Red Sox bringing him in as the middle of the lineup DH for the next 4 years.

Jay Bruce

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

30

146

.254

36

101

141

29

2

.324

.508

0.832

Bruce certainly has the power to contribute to the Red Sox lineup but I worry about his low batting average.  His career average is less than .250 and 3 of his 10 seasons in the league he has hit less than .230.  Bruce is also an outfielder, so he would likely become a designated hitter for the Red Sox.  I would still be excited by the possibility of Bruce hitting 30 home runs for Boston, but I would proceed with cautious optimism.

Eduardo Nunez

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

30

114

.313

12

58

146

33

0

.341

.460

0.801

Nunez was a breath of fresh air for the Red Sox last year.  The team acquired him in a mid-season trade with the Giants, and he became their most consistent hitter when healthy.  Nunez will not cost as much as the rest of the batters on this list, but he proved to be a very valuable player last season.  He is a utility defensive player, with the ability to play multiple infield and outfield positions.  Nunez was a very serviceable second baseman while Dustin Pedroia was injured last year, so I expect they will re-sign him to fill that same role while Pedroia recovers from knee surgery at the beginning of the season.

Jose Bautista

AGE

G

BA

HR

RBI

H

2B

3B

OBP

SLG

OPS

37

157

.203

23

65

119

27

0

.308

.366

0.674

Bautista’s age and batting average make him less attractive, but that will also make him a cheaper option.  The Blue Jays slugger was an all-star for six consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2015, and he leads the American League in home runs in 2010 and 2011.  Two years removed from 40 home runs and 114 RBIs, signing with the Red Sox would give him an opportunity to step out of the outfield and into the dugout as the designated hitter.  Since Bautista is a proven playoff performer and former league superstar, he could be the scrappy veteran leader that could help push the Red Sox over the edge in the playoffs.  Signing Bautista would likely be a short-term contract with a low enough value to also sign a solid pitcher.

Alex Cobb

AGE

GS

IP

W

L

ERA

SO

WHIP

30

29

179.1

12

10

3.66

128

1.221

A signing of Alex Cobb would not draw a lot of publicity, but he could be a significant addition to the Red Sox starting rotation.  Cobb would come cheap enough that the team could likely sign him while spending big money on a power hitting position player.  When healthy, Cobb has had a great ERA over the past four years, and he could step in as the fifth starter next season with potential for an increased role.  Cobb is also a right-handed pitcher, which could be a positive since their three best starters pitch left-handed. 

Andrew Cashner

AGE

GS

IP

W

L

ERA

SO

WHIP

31

28

166.2

11

11

3.40

86

1.320

Cashner is another right-handed pitcher who could add pitching depth to the back of the rotation.  I would prefer Cobb because he has a longer track record of success, but Cashner would provide much of the same pitching depth.  Jake Arietta, Yu Darvish, and C.C. Sabathia are better free agent pitchers, but these two seem to be the most obtainable.

The Red Sox are in a position right now where they are one or two pieces away from being legitimate title contenders.  If they play their cards right this winter, they could be in line for a long playoff run!

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