On Wednesday I looked at potential relief pitcher targets for the Red Sox as the trade deadline approaches. That seems to be the consensus for the greatest need for the team. The second greatest need, in my opinion, is outfield help. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and J.D. Martinez are the best offensive outfield in baseball—and it’s not really close. The issue is Martinez is a terrible defender and is best served as the team’s designated hitter. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been getting daily reps in center field and is sporting a woeful .181/.278/.292 slash line. Forgive me if I’m not buying the Tim Neverett line of “he’s just hitting the ball hard AT people.” Bradley is miserable offensively and has been for a long time—the team needs an upgrade.
There are a few ways the team can go here. They can either trade for a big upgrade and then move Andrew Benintendi to center field or they can go for a small addition who can split time with Bradley. I’d prefer the version of this where he is relegated to a bench role. On top of all this the bench is very poorly constructed right now. Blake Swihart really has no place to play, Eduardo Nunez is an infielder who can’t field the one position where he would get consistent playing time (second base), and Sandy Leon is a catcher. The team needs a more sustainable roster construction moving forward and that includes a quality outfielder. Whether that outfielder is a starter or a bench bat, the team has a clear need. Here are the options I came up with.
5. Leonys Martin, LHH- Detroit Tigers
Team Control: Through 2018 Salary: $1,750,000 Age: 30
This is, admittedly, not a very exciting option. The good news is Martin is having a career year and is sporting a 132 wRC+ vs. right-handed pitching while playing every day for Detroit. The bad news is that for his career Martin is worse than Bradley vs. both lefties and righties. If the team acquires the relatively inexpensive Martin then they are betting on the changes he made this year being sustainable. Martin has started elevating the ball more than ever before and is hitting the ball hard with more frequency. There could be something here.
4. Cameron Maybin, RHH- Miami Marlins
Team Control: Through 2018 Salary: $3,250,000 Age: 31
Considering the miserable year he’s having so far Maybin may be available for next to nothing: great news for the Red Sox and their weak farm system. Maybin may have zero homers and just three steals this year, but he has been able to hit lefties with a 109 wRC+. For his career, Maybin is barely a better hitter than Bradley with far less power, albeit with more speed on the bases. With stats like these, Maybin may be best suited to a fourth outfielder role.
3. Aaron Altherr, RHH- Philadelphia Phillies
Team Control: Through 2021 Salary: $561,000 Age: 27
After having a really strong 2017 season Altherr finds himself as the odd man out in the Philadelphia outfield situation this year. At 6’5, he packs a punch at the plate and posted a 120 wRC+ last season while swatting 19 homers in just 107 games. There is ample team control here as well with Altherr about enter his arbitration years. So far in his career Altherr has shown to be little more than average, but he has enticing upside and has experience in all three outfield positions. I could certainly see him relegating JBJ to a bench role if his bat is going. Considering the years of control Altherr will be more costly than Martin or Maybin.
2. Adam Jones, RHH- Baltimore Orioles
Team Control: Through 2018 Salary: $17,000,000 Age: 32
I fully admit this is a weird one. For Orioles fans, seeing Jones lace ‘em up for the Red Sox would be like seeing Dustin Pedroia donning Orioles orange……too weird. The other consideration for the Orioles is that Jones may have more value to them as the face of the franchise than he does considering the light prospect return they could expect from an aging player with just half a year under contract. If the Red Sox were to somehow pull off this unlikely move JBJ would be benched so fast your head would spin. Jones has been excellent this year exceeding his career norms with the bat posting a 119 wRC+ vs righties and a 107 vs lefties. His previous career marks were 112 and 95 respectively. Jones’ defense isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still serviceable. I wonder if the former Captain of Team USA would be willing to set aside old rivalries for a chance at a World Series?
1. Domingo Santana, RHH- Milwaukee Brewers
Team Control: Through 2021 Salary: $572,400 Age: 25
Last year Santana enjoyed his breakout season with the Brewers smashing 30 bombs and stealing 15 bases while getting on base at a .371 clip. Nasty. This year Santana found himself often benched due to the outfield logjam of Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and the essentially untradeable Ryan Braun. Santana is about to enter his arbitration years and is not having nearly the caliber of season he did a year ago. There is plenty of swing and miss in this bat, but there is also plenty of thunder. Perhaps the Red Sox could offer the Brewers something centered on high-minors relief help with prospects and/or Bradley to get a deal done. The Red Sox are stocked in the high-minors with relief talent and they realistically can’t keep it all. Bradley would provide excellent late inning defense for a team with WS aspirations. For the Red Sox, Santana could play the outfield every day while providing a huge boost the offense. This one is more aggressive, however, the payoff could be huge.