The Red Sox Have A Choice to Make at the Winter Meetings

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 23: Eric Hosmer
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 23: Eric Hosmer /

The Boston Red Sox have made a splash in years past at the annual Winter Meetings. Will they cause a title-wave this year, or will they be just a raindrop in preparation for the tsunami of free agents in the 2018 class?

The annual winter meetings are every baseball fan’s favorite time of the off-season. It gives a reminder that Spring Training isn’t too far away and allows us a slight glimpse at what our teams have in store for us in 2018.

The Red Sox finished first in the A.L. East for the second consecutive season, boasting 93 wins en route to another divisional series defeat.

What was present for the Red Sox throughout this season was aggressive base running, hitting for contact, a couple of consistent starters aided by a stellar bullpen.

So what was missing? Surely a 93-win team had the tools to compete and have little room for improvement, right? Don’t be too sure.

Where the Red Sox could see improvement is their power department. They ranked last in the division and 27th in all of baseball in home runs last season despite being near the top of the league the past decade or so.

Boston as a team hit for a .149 ISO last season with a .407 SLG%. Those marks ranked 28th and 26th in baseball, respectively.

These numbers are far from the norm for any Red Sox squad. Over the past decade, they rank 4th overall in ISO and have slugged .434, good enough for first overall. They also rank 6th in home runs over that span as well as first in doubles.

The hitter-friendly Fenway Park aids in this power surge, allowing right-handed hitters to muscle round-trippers over the Green Monster while left-handed hitters can slice doubles off of the famed wall.

Mookie Betts led all Red Sox players last season with 24 home runs and 102 RBI’s. Five players including Betts eclipsed ten home runs this season while three including him eclipsed 20.

So what are the Red Sox to do to rectify this power-deprived team?

They were linked to the most coveted trade piece of 2017 in Giancarlo Stanton, but those reports have since subsided. Free agents Carlos Santana and Logan Morrison have also been linked to the Red Sox as well.

Is signing a low-level free agent the best move for the 2018 Boston Red Sox?

While all of those options would bode well for Boston, Stanton would’ve cost the Red Sox a huge haul in prospects as well as taking on the remainder of his $325 million 13-year contract. In addition, Santana isn’t exactly the leader they so desperately need and while Morrison clubbed 38 home runs seemingly out of nowhere last season, he isn’t the proven and consistent production they are seeking.

All in all, none of these men seem like a perfect match for Boston. However, the so-called “leftovers” or better dubbed, the unnamed free agents I’ve excluded thus far- might be close to a perfect fit.

Free agent Eric Hosmer fits the mold pretty well. His consistency on both offense and defense along with being battle-tested in the postseason could provide the right combination of leadership and quality of production this team is vying for.

Fresh off of a career year, Hosmer hit .318/.385/.498 last season for Kansas City while collecting his fourth Golden Glove and first Silver Slugger.

Hosmer’s best season to date couldn’t have come at a better time. He is entering his first year in free agency and will command a contract worth over $100 million. At just 28 years old, Hosmer is right in the prime of his career and health, making him a valuable asset to any team. The only down-side to Hosmer is that he would cost Boston a draft pick in this year’s upcoming selection process due to his rejecting of a $17.4 million qualifying offer.

J.D. Martinez, however, does not come with the loss of a draft pick. Because he was traded to Arizona during the season, Martinez could not receive a qualifying offer thus no draft pick attached to him.

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Although his 45 home runs failed to match the 59 of Stanton, Martinez hit home runs more frequently between plate appearances than any other player in the game.

At 30 years of age, the slugger is two years older than Hosmer but shares the same seven seasons in the majors with him.

While both men have postseason experience along with leadership qualities and power at the plate, Martinez could see up to twice the value of Hosmer’s contract with more guaranteed years.

$200 million for a 30-year-old designated hitter seems like a bit much. As Martinez is one of the best sluggers this game has to offer, Boston should be wary of a contract such as this one. With the demand of that kind of money, any basic, non-deferred contract will demand over five years.

If paired with a five-year agreement, that contract would hold an average annual value of $40 million. That would be the biggest AAV in the history of the sport. But, does a seven-year deal sound any better? A seven-year deal worth that much would ensure an AAV of about $28.5 million. Giving any player that amount per season is a risk. It would prove even riskier to hand it out to 37-year-old DH.

$100 million and $200 million. That’s what these two men are demanding and there should be every confidence that they each will receive it. The Red Sox need a power bat and there should also be every confidence that they will acquire one. One of these men is the power bat they are searching for.

The Red Sox will have their choice as their wallets are fat. But they will have to act fast, as they surely will not be the only team proposing offers to these two men December 10th through 14th. They have a choice to make. The question they are going to have to face and the choice they are going to have to make is simple: which man is best suited for the 2018 Red Sox.?

Next: Pros and Cons of Signing J.D. Martinez

They could go with a younger, consistent, more versatile baseball player at a cheaper cost or they could choose one of the most feared sluggers in the game today. The former represents the whole future, while the latter represents the next few years.