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Daily Red Sox Links: Who will be the next free agent acquisition for the Red Sox?

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J.D. Martinez is officially a Red Sox. He obviously won’t be the last free agent singing in the team’s history.

MLB: NL Wildcard-Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hate it or love it, the Boston Red Sox are a team that is always going to gobble up free agents. Whenever the offseason comes around, no matter how hot or cold the stove is, the Sox are going to be mentioned alongside the names of just about every big player. We saw it this year when they were linked to Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez, with the latter being signed to a five-year, $110 million deal.

Martinez was formally introduced as a member of the Red Sox on Monday and now the Red Sox are among the most stacked teams in baseball. But the roster as currently constructed will undoubtedly look different one, two and three years down the road. While some guys will stick around for a while (Mookie Betts, Chris Sale), others will not be around in the near future. Prospects will obviously be at the ready to fill in, but the Red Sox will still look to free agency (and trades) to continue to build the best possible team they can.

Is it too early to start thinking about those next free agent signings? Of course. Does the fact that the ink hasn’t even dried on Martinez’s deal mean I’m not curious about what will happen in the next few winters? No, especially considering the legendary status of the 2019 offseason. Some of the big names that will enter free agency that year include Brian Dozier, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Michael Brantley, Charlie Blackmon, A.J. Pollock and some guy named Bryce Harper. That’s without even looking at the pitchers. There also are plenty of exciting players that will be open to signing with a new team in 2020 and 2021.

So, with that in mind and our knowledge of how the Red Sox are built for the future, which free agent would you like to see them go after/which free agent(s) do you think they will sign?

In answering, let’s assume the Red Sox will retain current players on the roster like Craig Kimbrel, who will be eligible for free agency after this season, and Xander Bogaerts, who will get there after 2019. Here’s my short list with the year they’d become free agents.

Jose Altuve, 2020

At some point Dustin Pedroia is going to have to hang it up and the next great Boston second baseman will need to take over. While the Astros would be crazy not to sign the 2017 MVP to an extension, if Altuve is set loose after 2019, getting a career .316/.362/.453 hitter who steals 30 bases a year before he turns 30 seems like a no-brainer.

Nolan Arenado, 2020

Similarly to Altuve, Arenado is an MVP caliber player who will more than likely never reach free agency, at least if the Rockies aren’t completely nuts. He will turn 27 this season and he has recorded three-straight seasons with an OPS+ of 120 or higher, buoyed by an incredible 258 extra-base hits. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface either, as Arenado is a defensive sorcerer. Rafael Devers sets up the Red Sox nicely at third base for the foreseeable future, but it would be tough to pass on Arenado.

Robbie Ray, 2021

Last year, in his age-25 season, Ray put it all together. He had always had strong peripherals, especially in terms of strikeouts, but he struggled to a 4.90 ERA in 2016. Last year, he lowered that mark by two runs while striking out 218 batters in 162 innings. His ERA+ of 166 was only 14 points below NL leader Clayton Kershaw. Speaking of, Kershaw will also be a free agent after the 2020 season, but he is three years older than Ray and will undoubtedly demand much more moeny (which the Dodgers will gladly pay before his contract ends). Ray would be a relatively cheaper option and an exciting fixture at the top of the Red Sox’s future rotation.

Paul Goldschmidt, 2020

With Martinez, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Bogaerts, Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr., the Red Sox have young stars at most of the positions on the diamond. First base remains an area that is going to need work. Mitch Moreland is signed for the next two seasons and Hanley Ramirez can (hopefully) still hit, but the Sox should improve this area eventually. Sam Travis and Michael Chavis could be the guys that do it, but we don’t have to wonder if Goldschmidt would. He may already be 30, meaning he’ll be coming off his age-31 season entering the 2019-20 offseason, but his hitting should still translate in the American League, even if he can’t keep stealing 20 bags a year. Once again, this is a pipe dream kind of signing, since he is the face of the Diamondbacks and will likely get an extension at some point.

JT Realmuto, 2021

Who knows where Realmuto will be by the time he reaches free agency. With the Marlins tanking hard and trading off players left and right, it would seem like only a matter of time before the 26-year-old catcher, who is already displeased with his current team, gets dealt. Christian Vazquez has steadily improved at the plate over the years, but he doesn’t have the same up side as Realmuto, who has slashed .281/.323/.430 over the last three seasons. Perhaps he could do the same thing for catcher that Goldschmidt does at first.

So there you have it. Some potential future Red Sox. Let me know who you want the Sox to go after in the next few years in the comments.

J.D. Martinez didn’t come to Boston just to hit. He will also be playing the outfield. (Chad Jennings; Boston Herald)

Martinez is a fan of Tom Brady so he’ll fit right in in Boston. (Mark Dunphy; Boston.com)

He’s even got the local slang down. (Joshua Schrock; NESN)

A lot has been made of what Martinez’s signing would mean for Hanley Ramirez, but Ramirez has been in favor of the addition for some time. (Ricky Doyle; NESN)

But enough about the signing. How about seeing Martinez actually doing work as a Red Sox? (Christopher Smith; MassLive)

Ramon Vazquez is a member of the Red Sox coaching staff and he will play a large role in using analytics to improve the play on the field. (Jen McCaffrey; MassLive)