It was no secret the Boston Red Sox came into the offseason wanting to add a big bat to the lineup. They finished sixth in the AL in runs scored this past season and were dead last with 168 home runs, if you can believe that. The Chicago White Sox hit the next fewest homers. They hit 186.
So, with Giancarlo Stanton now a member of the New York Yankees, the two best bats on the market are free agents J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. The Red Sox have been connected to both players at times this winter. Now, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, the team's goal is to sign both Martinez and Hosmer. From Silverman:
A source at the winter meetings said that the Red Sox are engaged in talks with not only free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez but also free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer.
The intent is not to try to ensure signing one of the two elite hitters, said the source.
The goal is to try to sign both of them.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski neither confirmed nor denied the report.
"No, would not comment on any free agents discussions," replied Dombrowski in a text this morning.
Signing Martinez, who Dombrowski knows from their time with the Detroit Tigers, and Hosmer would require a massive financial commitment. Both players are likely to sign nine-figure contracts, and the total investment in both players could top $300 million. There's also the matter of Hanley Ramirez, who is still under contract and in the club's first base and DH picture, the two positions Martinez and Hosmer would presumably play.
Then again, Ramirez hit .242/.320/.429 (95 OPS+) with 23 home runs in 2017, which is below average production overall, and especially so by first base and DH standards. Signing Martinez and Hosmer, then trading Hanley to save money is one possibility, though trading Ramirez wouldn't be easy. Would the Red Sox eat the $22.75 million left on his contract and release him a la Pablo Sandoval last season?
Adding Martinez and Hosmer to the lineup would surely give the Red Sox's offense some extra thump, even while acknowledging Hosmer has been rather inconsistent year-to-year in his career. New manager Alex Cora could run out a lineup like this:
- RF Mookie Betts
- LF Andrew Benintendi
- DH J.D. Martinez
- 1B Eric Hosmer
- 2B Dustin Pedroia
- SS Xander Bogaerts
- 3B Rafael Devers
- C Sandy Leon/Christian Vazquez
- CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Keep in mind Pedroia will Brock Holt or Deven Marrero (or an offseason pickup) will have to hold down second base for the time being. Also, . The Red Sox could trade Bradley, move Betts to center, and play Martinez in right, freeing up DH for Hanley., so someone like
It would not be unprecedented for a team to hand out two $100-plus million contracts in one offseason. The Yankees did it during the 2008-09 offseason, when they signed CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, and the Red Sox themselves did it during the 2010-11 offseason, when they signed Carl Crawford and extended Adrian Gonzalez. Also, Boston gave Sandoval and Ramirez contracts approaching $100 million each just three years ago.
The Sandoval and Ramirez contracts -- and the Crawford and Gonzalez contracts, for that matter -- could perhaps scare the Red Sox away from giving huge contracts to both Martinez and Hosmer. Then again, the club's best chance to win is now, before Craig Kimbrel becomes a free agent next offseason and Chris Sale becomes a free agent the offseason after that.
Martinez and Hosmer would certainly help the Red Sox win right away, and with the Yankees improved and looking very formidable, Dombrowski could get very aggressive and try to add two big name players this winter, not just one.