The Red Sox on Monday signed incumbent first baseman Mitch Moreland , which means they're very likely moving on from their Eric Hosmer flirtation. That means signing slugger J.D. Martinez is likely priority No. 1 for Dave Dombrowski and company. Boston badly needs more power in the lineup, and that's why Martinez -- caveats and all -- .
The Sox, though, have a bit of a crowded roster, and absent a related move it's going to be hard to wedge Martinez into the lineup. For a while, the idea of trading Jackie Bradley Jr. has been bandied about, but Bradley of course projects as a useful member of the 2018 team. Since the Sox very much aim to contend next season, trading away a solid defensive center fielder who's going into his age-28 season and forecasts as a bounceback candidate at the plate might be self-defeating.
So keep Bradley and, assuming he's willing, install Martinez as DH? Sure thing, but the problem is that Hanley Ramirez is still around. On that front ...
So Ramirez is about to turn 34, and he's coming off a 2017 season in which he put up an OPS+ of 95 -- not adequate for a bat-only player. He's also owed $22 million for the upcoming season, and, as noted above, his contract includes a $22 million option for 2019 that will vest if he logs at least 497 plate appearances next year. That's a lot of money for a player who, let's be frank, probably isn't going to be any good ever again. Teams don't come calling for that.
If the Sox want to trade him, they're going to have to attach a prospect or three to Ramirez in order to persuade the team that acquires him to take on that dead money. The other option is to treat Ramirez as a sunk cost and cut him loose at a cost of $22 million.
The reality is that the Red Sox need and want J.D. Martinez. In order to make a fit for him, they're going to need to trade away an outfielder who can help them in 2018 or find a way to make Ramirez go away. The latter approach would be best for their short-term interests, but it's either going to cost them young talent or money.