Signing Martinez left me no room for additional moves in free agency, as his $25 million salary for 2018 put me just shy of my estimated payroll cap. However, if I had been outbid for Martinez, there were contingencies in place.
The Kansas City Royals managed to re-sign first baseman Eric Hosmer in our simulation to a six-year, $100 million deal that included incentives. I was willing to offer Hosmer a six-year, $105 million deal, which was withdrawn once the Martinez signing became official. I couldn’t afford to pay both free agents and still remain within a 15 percent payroll increase from last season. It’s unclear if the Site Expert from Kings of Kauffman would have raised their offer to compete with mine.
While I view Hosmer as the second-best free agent hitter on the market, he doesn’t do quite enough to solve Boston’s power problem. However, signing him instead of Martinez would have left approximately $8 million in space below our unofficial salary cap. Pairing Hosmer with a lower-cost power bat could have been a feasible alternative to signing Martinez.
My Plan C if I couldn’t sign either Martinez or Hosmer was Jay Bruce. I offered a 2-year, $30 million deal for the left-handed slugger, who has five seasons with 30+ homers on his resume. The average annual value is a bit of a raise from what Bruce earned last year, while the short-term duration lines up well with when the Red Sox will need to start extending their young core.
Conceivably, I could have signed both Hosmer and Bruce. In order to afford both, I would have needed to deal Jackie Bradley and the $6 million he’s projected to earn in arbitration for a package of prospects. Bruce would then take over in left field with Benintendi sliding to center. I prefer the option of signing Martinez and keeping JBJ, so glad that panned out, yet Hosmer/Bruce would be a solid backup plan.
I also would have considered pairing Hosmer with a cheaper bat, such as Logan Morrison or Lucas Duda. In that scenario, I could afford to keep Bradley, put Hosmer at first base and use the other free agent signee to platoon at DH with Hanley Ramirez. I didn’t place a bid on Morrison or Duda but each was signed in our simulation for no more than $10 million per year, so it wouldn’t have been difficult to clear room for one of them.