MLB Hot Stove rumors: Red Sox have a plan if they miss out on J.D. Martinez

With spring training a week away, the Boston Red Sox seem to be engaged in a staring contest with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. They've reportedly made him an nine-figure contract offer.

Who will blink first? Does Martinez sign it, or do the Red Sox up their offer? Or does Boston pivot to someone like Edwin Encarnacion or another free-agent bat?

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the BoSox are sketching out backup plans in case things don't work out with Martinez. Boston reportedly has some level of interest in free agent first baseman Logan Morrison. From Heyman:

We all know J.D. Martinez is their first choice, and while they don't seem to have a second choice who's close -- which may be why there's willing to wait -- Logan Morrison is on their radar as a backup plan. 

Morrison, 30, had a career year with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, hitting .246/.353/.516 (135 OPS+) with 38 home runs. At this point he is a first baseman and a first baseman only, which limits roster flexibility a bit. Martinez can at least play the outfield -- not particularly well, but he can play it -- if the Red Sox wanted to go that route.

A year ago Morrison signed a one-year contract worth $2.5 million with the Rays and, while it would stand to reason he deserves a larger contract now given the year he just had, this is a rough free agent market. It's been a while since one-dimensional first-base mashers like LoMo have really cashed in big. Another small-ish one-year contract might be in the cards for him.

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The Red Sox are eyeing Logan Morrison as a backup plan to J.D. Martinez. USATSI

If the Red Sox were to sign Morrison, new manager Alex Cora would have to figure out a way to make him, Hanley Ramirez, and Mitch Moreland coexist at the first base and DH spots. The lineup could look something like this against righties ...

  1. RF Mookie Betts (RHB)
  2. LF Andrew Benintendi (LHB)
  3. SS Xander Bogaerts (RHB)
  4. DH Logan Morrison (LHB)
  5. 1B Mitch Moreland (LHB)
  6. 3B Rafael Devers (LHB)
  7. C Christian Vazquez (RHB)  
  8. CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (LHB)
  9. 2B Brock Holt (LHB)

... and something like this against lefties ... 

  1. RF Mookie Betts (RHB)
  2. LF Andrew Benintendi (LHB)
  3. SS Xander Bogaerts (RHB)
  4. DH Hanley Ramirez (RHB)
  5. 1B Mitch Moreland (LHB)
  6. 3B Rafael Devers (LHB)
  7. C Christian Vazquez (RHB)  
  8. CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (LHB)
  9. 2B Deven Marrero (RHB)

... which looks better on paper than it played out on the field last season. Dustin Pedroia will miss the first few weeks of the season following knee surgery and, if Morrison doesn't repeat his career year, the Red Sox would be banking entirely on their young players getting better for improvement.

The Red Sox finished dead last in the AL in home runs last season, and adding Morrison on the cheap would be a worthwhile move. Signing Martinez would be the better move because he's a better player, and his swing is build for Fenway Park, but Morrison would be better than nothing. Teams need backup plans, and that's what LoMo is. The priority should remain Martinez.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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