We all know that the Red Sox need to hit more home runs and getting J.D. Martinez would help with that a lot. But boy am I tired of waking up every morning just to find that there has been silence on the Martinez front at best, and another article that points to the Red Sox mucking this up at worst.
It is especially frustrating when Martinez is not going to come in and solve every problem the Red Sox have, even if there aren’t really that many. With back-to-back AL East division titles in their pockets, the Red Sox clearly don’t have a ton to fix. In fact, in-house improvements from Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. (offensively) and Hanley Ramirez would go a long way in improving an offense that now needs to contend with the New York Home Run Hitters. If Boston gets the Bogaerts, JBJ and Hanley of 2016, they suddenly have three players with 20-plus home run potential. Adding Martinez to that mix would be excellent, but not necessarily mandatory. The lineup would be pretty strong from top to ... well almost the bottom.
That’s where the Red Sox are really going to hurt, regardless of if Martinez comes in or the aforementioned trio bounce back. Right now, with Dustin Pedroia slated to be out until May at the earliest, the Sox have a real problem in the infield. Someone needs to play second base and Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero and Brock Holt don’t exactly make for the most imposing group of players.
Hernandez and Marrero seem like the most likely choices to start. Hernandez slashed .276/.300/.328 last year, showing very little power or patience while benefiting from a .372 BABIP to earn that respectable .276 batting average. In addition, Hernandez hasn’t been much of a help in the field, with minus-1 defensive run saves at second base in his career. He did improve last year (+1), but that’s still not great.
As for Marrero, he is two years older than Hernandez and had a forgettable .211/.259/.333 triple slash, good for an OPS+ of just 54. He was a neutral force in the field, with a reading of exactly zero in defensive runs saved, although he showed some slick glove work at third (five DRS).
Now the depth behind those two is limited, and there aren’t a ton of great options on the free agent market ... except for one. You remember Eduardo Nunez don’t you? All he did in 38 games with the Red Sox after being traded was slash .321/.353/.539 with eight home runs, six teals and an OPS+ of 129. If he had maintained that pace over a full season, a tough task to be sure, he would have led all Red Sox in the last category. Of course, Nunez wasn’t the best fielder at second base, with minus-four defensive runs saved in 213 2⁄3 innings at the position for the Sox last season. However, his offensive work more than made up for that, and the fact that he can play multiple infield positions makes him all the more valuable.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Nunez would get a deal for two years and $14 million back in November and with him still not signed, I can’t imagine that the price tag is going to increase. Even if it does, any type of deal even remotely close to that projection is a pittance to what the Red Sox will have to give up to get Martinez.
Obviously Martinez is the better player and solves a major issue all by himself. Signing Nunez (and banking on bounce-back years from multiple players) is not an apples-to-apples solution to potentially losing out on Martinez. However, if the Red Sox are determined to either get Martinez at a discount or not get him at all, then they should be making a move to improve what could be a really weak point of the lineup no matter how well the other eight batters fare.
To my point, the Red Sox are in such need of a reliable second baseman that they’re giving Blake Swihart a crack. (Jason Mastrodonato; Boston Herald)
Speaking of second base, Hernandez, Swihart and Pedroia are going to be guys to watch in spring training. (Chad Jennings; Boston Herald)
The Red Sox are obviously always looking to improve the roster, but there are future budgetary issues to be considered. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
While second base is a mess right now, the Red Sox are just fine with their ace as Chris Sale is ready to dominate again in 2018. (Jen McCaffrey; MassLive)
Perhaps people forget, but the Red Sox have won back-to-back AL East Division titles the last two years. That’s the first time that’s happened in the Wild Card era. So why is this team not getting people fired up? (Chad Finn; Boston Globe)
Cam Ellis takes a dive into PECOTA’s projections and finds some things he likes and some things he doesn’t. (Cam Ellis, BP Boston)