I will be the first person to tell you how badly the Red Sox need a bat like J.D. Martinez’s in order to make a deep run in the playoffs. This article isn’t going to back up the opinion that this team, as built, is ready to contend with NYY/WAS/LAD/HOU.
Down Year 2017
All of last season, the void that David Ortiz left in the lineup went unfilled. There was a clear home run surge in the MLB last year, and Boston was left out.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had a season that earned him a spot on Yahoo’s “most overrated players in the MLB” list. Something JBJ looks to use as motivation to get back on track this season:
— Jackie Bradley Jr. (@JackieBradleyJr) February 13, 2018
Xander Bogaerts was snuffed by a lingering hand injury last year. One that even he says he probably shouldn’t have played through. On regaining some pop after recovering from his hand injury, Bogaerts said, “I’m not saying I’m going out and hitting 60 like Stanton or something, but I can definitely go out there and put up the same numbers as ‘16, maybe a little bit better”. In 2016, the season Xander is referring to, he smacked 21 home runs.
Hanley Ramirez was battling a shoulder injury from right out the gate last season. In an interview, Hanley said that he plans on playing another ‘10 years’ and sees himself returning to ‘Miami Hanley’ this year.
After being an A.L. MVP candidate in 2016, Betts batted .318 with 31 HR and 113 RBI. He as well found himself slumping (by his standards) in 2017 where he batted .264 and had less home runs and RBI’s.
In the Red Sox first season without their locker room leader and best slugger in the middle of the lineup, four other key parts of their lineup found themselves in down years… Boston still managed to win 93 games.
As it stands right now, Boston is still the favorite to sign J.D. Martinez. If Boston snags J.D., and gets bounce-back seasons from at least three of the four guys listed above, they will have submitted themselves back into the World Series discussion.
Alternative to J.D. Martinez
Let’s say that Arizona ends up bringing back J.D. Martinez.
The reaction to spring training thus far has been less than enthusiastic for most Red Sox fans. People have already mailed in the season because the Bronx got Stanton.
This Red Sox roster is a good one. It may not be a world series contender, but it doesn’t have to be.
They are a wild card team as is, and with good years from Bogaerts/Bradley/Betts, they could potentially snag the division.
What I am getting at, is that this roster doesn’t need to add anybody right now. It can wait until the trade deadline. I once wrote an article, here, where I went over every single trade deadline that Dave Dombrowski has been in charge for, and you will see that he has never left a deadline without filling the team’s needs.
If for some reason the Red Sox miss out on Martinez, waiting until the deadline is something that can benefit them. This would give Dombrowski a chance to see the team play this year. By doing so, he can get a better feel for their needs.
Another reason that waiting for the trade deadline may be a good idea is that the impending free agency for next year is loaded. Free agency has a huge impact on the trade deadline. Teams that have players with contracts that are expiring are more willing to move them at the deadline instead of potentially losing them for almost nothing in free agency.
This list of impending free agents that could be dealt at the trade deadline include the likes of Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Brian Dozier. All of these players, some for a greater price than others, could be brought in for a playoff run to help this team.
Boston Will Be Fine
Whichever way Boston ends up going, do not give up on this team yet. They managed to win 93 games in a season with a poor manager, locker room drama, and serious lineup slumps. Not to mention they had a down year from their 2016 Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello. Also, Boston lost both Steven Wright and ‘Ace’ David Price to injuries for all if not most of the season.
If J.D. Martinez ends up donning a Red Sox uniform, they will be locked and loaded from game one. If they lose out on J.D Martinez, Boston has the juice to get to the trade deadline, where Dave Dombrowski can load up for a playoff run.