Though the Red Sox agreed to terms with J.D. Martinez on Monday, the deal is not official yet as it is still pending a physical. Clearly, the Red Sox are not worried about that process not going well as they have already gone and cleared a 40-man roster spot for their newest addition on Tuesday. The team announced that they had traded Bryce Brentz to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash considerations.
Brentz, of course, has been around as a Red Sox prospect for a long time, and he had something of a resurgence in 2017. Though he never made it on to the big-league squad (for reasons that still escape me), he mashed all year long down at Triple-A. In 120 games with Pawtucket last year the outfield prospect hit .271/.334/.529 with 31 home runs. Prior to this move and the Martinez signing, it had seemed that Brentz was pegged for the fourth outfielder role after the team brought him onto the 40-man roster at the start of the offseason to prevent him from becoming a minor-league free agent.
With all of that being said, this is the move that made the most sense to make room for Martinez. While Brentz did hit extremely well in 2017, he was also a 28-year-old who had gotten his first taste of Triple-A way back in 2012. That’s not to say there is no chance that he makes an impact at the major-league level, because his power is very real. However, I wouldn’t bet on him being more than a fourth outfielder, and the Red Sox are in a position where that was less necessary from someone without minor-league options.
As a result of this deal, though, Boston is left with a lack of depth at the outfield position. Martinez surely slides in as the team’s de facto fourth outfielder and he will get some time in left field when he’s not DH’ing. Beyond that, they will be relying on players like Brock Holt, Aneury Tavarez, Jeremy Barfield, Steve Selsky and perhaps even Rusney Castillo, though there are obviously financial reasons holding back the possibility for that last one. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw another minor-league signing with a spring training invite for an outfielder coming soon just to add another name to that list.