Red Sox: Cora to occasionally use Martinez in outfield, move Betts

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24: J.D. Martinez /

Manager Alex Cora revealed J.D. Martinez will be playing outfield more than we think.

Newly acquired J.D. Martinez will play both corner outfield spots for the Boston Red Sox, leaving Mookie Betts with some time at center field, according to Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had some very interesting statements for Mastrodonato:

"“At home he’ll play left field and if somehow he plays somewhere on the road here, he’ll play right field,” manager Alex Cora said on Saturday.According to Cora, one possibility would have Mookie Betts moving from right field, where he’s won back-to-back Gold Gloves, to center field, a position he once played well but hasn’t manned since 2015. That scenario would only take place on the road.At home, Betts will stay in right field and Jackie Bradley Jr. will stay in center, but Martinez could see time in left field, where he’d have to learn how to play balls off the Green Monster.“Just like all the decisions we make as far as lineups and the pitching, the ballpark comes into play,” Cora said. “I think Mookie will play most games in right field at home, we know that. We’re going to try to avoid moving him around. But if that’s the case, we’re comfortable with J.D. playing right field at other places.”"

Cora seems a bit unsure of what exactly will take place on a daily basis. The Red Sox lineup will be a game of Russian roulette, and Cora will have his hands completely full with deciding who to pencil in for the starting nine each game.

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Switching Betts out of his Gold Glove position to center field raises questions about diminishing his defensive value to the Red Sox. Not many Gold Glovers are switched out of the position they won the award at, to another position they haven’t played since 2015. Betts is a phenomenal athlete, and there shouldn’t be too many concerns about his glove moving from right to center, but the Red Sox will certainly lose defensive value if the outfield is tinkered with.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. is moved to the bench, the Red Sox are automatically a less efficient team defensively. JBJ is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, and replacing him is nearly impossible. But moving Betts out of his natural position and moving Martinez into the outfield? Seems like a ticking time bomb that will eventually haunt the Red Sox at a crucial time.

Martinez was signed to a five-year, $110-million contract primarily to be the new designated hitter, but made it known that he also wants to play in the outfield.

“That was part of the deal coming in, was knowing that I am going to play the outfield but I am going to DH at times too,” Martinez said last week when he was introduced.

Mastrodonato pointed out just how badly the Red Sox outfield could suffer defensively, should Bradley or Andrew Benintendi be swapped for Martinez:

"According to most metrics, Martinez has been a sub-par defender in his career, particularly over the last two years since he broke his throwing elbow in 2016.His arm was worth 8.8 runs above average in 2015, but it was worth 10.4 runs below average in 2016 and 2017, according to And while he held opponents from advancing 90 feet or threw them out while trying 52.9 percent of the time in 2015, that number fell to 38.3 percent in 2016 and just 32.6 percent last year, according to right field, his most common position, Martinez’s range has been worth 18.5 runs below average over his career."

Martinez must be played at DH as much as possible. It’s pure asinine to move JBJ to the bench and additionally move two-time Gold Glove winner Betts out of position. It’s not only restricting JBJ — one of the most streaky hitters in baseball — from finding his groove during the season, but it’s also potentially stunting Benintendi’s growth by not playing him in the outfield every single game.

Another question to think about: Where does this leave Eduardo Nunez? If he’s not playing the infield, Martinez is another guy who will be taking away at-bats from the veteran utility player who single-handedly won games for Boston down the stretch last season.

At best, Cora will play Martinez at DH, Hanley Ramirez/Mitch Moreland at 1B and Dustin Pedroia at 2B with Nunez jockeying for position whenever someone isn’t producing or needs a day off.

At worse, this will be a very tense clubhouse with multiple players fighting for at-bats; some of them even looking for huge paydays soon. Restricting at-bats doesn’t give contract-hungry players much to be happy about.

Next: Red Sox Spring Training: The case for keeping Deven Marrero on the 25-man roster

One thing’s for sure, Cora will have to earn every single penny of his contract to keep all 25 guys on the Red Sox roster happy.