The Boston Red Sox find themselves in an interesting position this time of year. Fresh off back-to-back American League East division titles, Boston is losing their support from their fans and are in danger of being clobbered by the New York Yankees. Both the Yankees and Red Sox will have first-time managers in Aaron Boone and Alex Cora respectively, and both teams are fresh off playoff defeats by the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros. The difference between the teams is the Yankees added to their star-studded lineup luring the big fish Giancarlo Stanton fresh off a 59 home run season in Miami in a blockbuster trade, and now it leaves the Red Sox searching for an answer.
Maybe Stanton wouldn’t have accepted a deal to Boston, and we could’ve all lived with that, but from the outset the Red Sox never even showed any real interest in acquiring the slugger that would’ve smashed 60-70 homers playing in that ballpark all year. Now they have to answer for their transgressions and make a few moves if they want to capitalize on the championship window they have carved out for themselves.
The first decision for Dave Dombrowski to make is easy, sign Eric Hosmer. He checks all the boxes for what the Red Sox are looking for. Not only is the free agent first baseman a former gold glover at the position, which we all know they love and covet so much, but he’s just 28-years-old and brings a championship pedigree that no one in that clubhouse outside of Dustin Pedroia possesses. Hosmer has hit 25 homers in back-to-back seasons inside pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium and with his inside-out swing at Fenway who’s to say the player just entering his prime can’t get those power numbers up to 30-40 homers? The career .284 hitter slashed a career-best .318/.385/.498 a season ago and will find the gaps at Fenway as an exta-base machine.
Perhaps the biggest intangible Hosmer would bring to the Red Sox is his leadership. This is a team that felt the loss of David Ortiz big time in 2017 and adding Hosmer who has won a title with the Royals to lead by example would certainly shift the culture of the Boston Red Sox. Hosmer’s a guy who can tell David Price just to shut up and pitch and keep the team engaged through the long grind of the major league season. The culture change started when the Red Sox fired John Farrell and brought in Cora, and adding Hosmer to the mix would certainly shift the culture in the room for the better. Oh yeah, Hosmer is also dating Kacie McDonnell who works for NESN and pair that along with his friendship with many Red Sox players like Deven Marrero, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts and all the writing is on the wall for Hosmer to play in Boston next season and beyond.
Eric Hosmer makes perfect sense for the Red Sox to fill their vacant role at first base which allows Hanley Ramirez to slide back into a full-time DH role in the final year of his contract with Boston. The former Royals first baseman will command six-plus years on the market for $20M plus per-year. Best guess? Red Sox can land the Scott Boras client on the open market on a 6-year, $144M deal.
Next up is free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. The man Dave Dombrowski once acquired in a minor-league player swap during his tenure with Detroit is now on the open market fresh off a 45 home run season with over 100 runs batted in. Former Red Sox General Manager Mike Hazen made the move to acquire Martinez from Detroit in July signaling to his team that Arizona was going for it. All J.D. Martinez did with the DBacks was be the catalyst for their lineup during the entire second half clobbering 29 homers in 62 games including an impressive four-homer game. After washing out in the Astros system, Martinez blossomed in Detroit hitting 99 homers in a full-time role starting in 2014, combine that with the second-half in Arizona and Martinez has 128 homers, 305 RBI’s, 124 doubles and 185 walks since the start of 2014. What’s more impressive is Martinez has put up these numbers in limited action missing time in both ’16 and ’17 battling injuries to his elbow and ankle.
Martinez’s right-handed power makes him the most coveted bat on the market, one that the Red Sox so desperately need to compete with the Yankees and contend for a championship. When he’s locked in, he’s just as dangerous as Stanton and at just 30, he has many years ahead of him as a key contributor in the middle of any lineup. Martinez hitting at Fenway with his power may well crush 50-60 homers as a member of the Red Sox. His defense has been called into question at times, but I’m confident in his ability to play a solid left field at Fenway and the Red Sox should be confident as well. Best guess on a Martinez deal? Boras has asked for 7-years and $210M for the free agent slugger, but I believe the actual terms of the deal will be much more equivalent to 6-years worth $165M.
You’ll notice above I have Eric Hosmer at 1B, Hanley at DH and Martinez in LF. That means I have one of the “killer B’s” off the team. Easy decision here is to move Jackie Bradley Jr. to one of the many potential suitors on the market and acquire a solid late-inning reliever. Addison Reed is a free agent and the money some of these middle relivers are getting is crazy, best way to get a solid one is via trade. I’ll admit my faith in Dombrowski trading for a setup man is weary based on his last two both going under the knife almost immediately upon arrival (see Tyler Thronburg and Carson Smith), but Bradley has already been floated on the market and Andrew Benintendi can transition to center field with ease.
It’s not about waiting until next winter to sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, it’s about the now. The Red Sox have a championship window carved out by the contract of their ace’s Chris Sale and David Price as well as Rick Porcello in his prime. Go get Hosmer and Martinez and you can still make a play at the big splash again next winter with Hanley coming off the books and Martinez can slide into a full-time DH role. For Dave Dombrowski and John Henry, it’s time to open up your check book and get two guys who can provide real value to your franchise and help win a championship. Otherwise have fun being the fourth team in town and getting slammed by the Yankees nineteen times this season.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank