All recent reports suggest the Boston Red Sox are far from the favorites to land Giancarlo Stanton. Knowing that, the team, and the fans, should turn their attention to other sources of power.
Giancarlo Stanton enterned the offseason by far as the most discussed trade target by every fantasy GM around, and probably by every actual GM as well. Even before the 2017 season reached its conclusion, Stanton and the Red Sox were linked as a possible match.
Most recent reports, however, suggest that a union between baseball’s top slugger and the Sox is far from realistic. Stanton, for his part, seems to prefer warmer weather, as the Los Angeles Dodgers are rumored to be his top choice. Furthermore, the price tag associated with Miami’s superstar would make any trade more bitter than sweet.
The Case Against Giancarlo Stanton
The Marlins, in return for Stanton, are asking for a package of top prospects and that the other team take on the remainder of Stanton’s gargantuan contract. The money alone could be nauseating; when added to the prospects Miami would undoubtedly demand, it becomes clear that the value simply isn’t there.
The Marlins would almost certainly ask for prospects Jay Groome and Michael Chavis, among others. Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, though both now play in the Majors, could easily be included in any proposed package. That alone should preclude any desire to see Stanton in a Red Sox uniform. Though both experienced their share of struggles, as all young players do, Devers and Benintendi showed immense promise last season.
Benintendi came inches from taking home Rookie of the Year honors; after hitting 20 home runs and stealing 20 bags in his first full season. Devers hit .284 with 10 homers in 58 games, and showed greater defensive ability than many believed he would. Third base has been a black hole for the Red Sox since Adrian Beltre left town, and the team has lacked a long-term solution at the hot corner since the days of Mike Lowell. There’s ample reason to believe Devers will end that drought.
As for the prospects, Groome and Chavis both hold immense value. Groome, though still far from ready, has all the makings of the home-grown ace the organization has struggled so mightily to develop. Chavis is no less important. Though both Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland still have some miles left in them, neither will be in Boston much longer. Chavis represents the future at first base.
The point, for those still reading, is simply that, while there may be no better source of power on the market than Giancarlo Stanton, there are more realistic, less organizationally-devastating options out there for the Red Sox to focus on. If Dave Dombrowski and company haven’t already turned their attention from Stanton to other options, they would be wise to do so now, before they miss out on one.
The Case for J.D. Martinez
Recently, reports have surfaced which indicate that the Red Sox are talking to the Chicago White Sox about trading for Jose Abreu. That would certainly fill the need for a stopgap a first base, as Abreu becomes a free agent in 2020. He has the power they need, and has surpassed 100 RBI in each of his first four seasons. However, he’s already 30, and the White Sox already left Boston’s store of blue-chip prospects looking rather picked over after previous transactions between the two teams. If possible, Boston should hold on to its remaining prospects. While the team wants to win now, it should also make sure the cupboard isn’t completely empty for future seasons.
The aforementioned Hosmer would also solve a few issues for Boston. His .318/.385/.498 triple-slash line in 2017 would represent a significant offensive upgrade over both Moreland and Ramirez. At 28, he’s just entering his prime. While he’s not the defender Moreland is, he’s no slouch with the glove.
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Hosmer has slugged 25 home runs in each of the past two seasons and has driven in 90-plus runs in each of the last three. He won’t ever come close to matching Stanton’s gaudy numbers, but that consistent production is nothing to sneeze at. Hosmer could hold down the fort if Chavis takes a couple more years to develop. Yet, with agent Scott Boras reportedly seeking $200 million over eight years for his client, the Red Sox could balk at investing so much in a player who has been inconsistent offensively throughout his career.
If Boston is going to risk so much on a free agent, they’d be better off going all in on J.D. Martinez, who is also likely to get $200 million (if not more). Martinez had a career year in 2017; he launched 45 homers and hit .303 between his time with the Detoit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. While Martinez could regress significantly, there’s more reason to trust his numbers than Hosmer’s. Martinez’s average, for one thing, is the real deal. He’s finished with a batting average above .300 in three of the past four seasons. His high strikeout numbers are concerning, but his OPS has remained more or less consistent since 2014.
The greater mystery is his power. While he’s notched 22 or more home runs in each of the past four seasons, his .690 slugging percentage represents an anomaly. Prior to last season, his career-best slugging percentage sat more than 100 points lower, at a still-respectable .553. Yet, even the most talented sluggers need protection around them in the lineup. In Detroit, Martinez had little enough of that. The fact that he managed to hit 38 home runs on an abysmal 2015 Tigers team should speak volumes about his talent. In 2017, before being traded, he had 16 home runs and a .630 slugging percentage for Detroit. After the trade, in 62 games with the D-Backs, Martinez slugged .741 with 29 homers.
It should surprise no one that J.D. Martinez’s production underwent such a dramatic upswing once he was part of a lineup riddled with dangerous hitters. Opposing pitchers could no longer work around him. Boston’s lineup, though hungry for power, is as talented as any in baseball. Martinez could thrive in the heart of that order. Acquiring Martinez would likely mean parting with the defensive wizardry of Jackie Bradley Jr., who is too talented to be relegated to a fourth-outfielder role. While many would be sad to see him go, he’d net a decent haul of prospects in return, and Boston’s power problems would be solved.
Power is at a premium this offseason. The rise in home runs last season has made it necessary for any team lacking in power to make remedying that a top priority. Though Giancarlo Stanton remains by far the top slugger around, and while Eric Hosmer would be a nice upgrade at first base, the Red Sox would get the most value out of J.D. Martinez. If they’re going to be paying for power no matter what, he’s their best bet.