Could the Boston Red Sox make a move on free agent Nelson Cruz? A breakdown of how this could potentially be a reality.
Just what is the hot stove league? There are two levels with the most prominent being the professional level where teams sign player, trade players, and draft players. Each season a blockbuster deal takes place and usually more than one. And the second level is the fans and with social media and various other options, we can create our own hot stove league. That is where I can now go into the bizarre or, is it?
The Boston Red Sox recently gained some notoriety by placing three players of note front and center in the realm of being sent elsewhere. Was this real? Is this legitimate? This is what we will never realize until it happens or Dave Dombrowski writes his baseball memoirs. One such possible deal was Jackie Bradley being sent to Arizona – BSI covered that.
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That caused a rare occurrence – getting me thinking. The first reaction was pitchers going into mourning as their ERA escalates with Bradley’s defensive absence, but that could be mitigated by putting Andrew Benintendi a few steps to his left and into his natural position in center field. That, however, means that J.D. Martinez will – in all probability – be placed in defensive harms way in left field.
The Red Sox have survived with average to below average defense in left field for decades. I saw Ted Williams and Teddy Ballgame will never surface in any conversation about great defensive outfielders. Neither will Jason Bay or Manny Ramirez, but what you give on defense you make up on offense. But what about designated hitter?
Now I go off the rails and you can join me or send me a gift card for McLean’s Hospital. One player is available who I have long admired for a single attribute – he just kills the ball and especially at Fenway Park. That player is 38-year-old right-hand hitting Nelson Cruz who last season collected $14 million from Seattle for an average Cruz season – .256/37/97.
As I attempt to build any sensibility into such a move, I will bring forth the aforementioned Fenway Park. Cruz’ lifetime numbers are staggering at Fenway for the 40 games he has played – .358/10/35. Cruz can still play the outfield, but let’s get real – I can play the outfield and it will not be a thing of defensive beauty. Cruz is a DH now and for however long he continues to play.
I have no concerns regarding the age issue as I see Cruz as a somewhat slightly statical downsize of David Ortiz. A one year deal with an option could get Cruz into a Red Sox uniform and that would be an offensive boost over Bradley.
Just what could the Red Sox get for Bradley is another issue. Pitching – most notably bullpen pitching – is a primary target. The Red Sox could look at the prospect market in an attempt to bolster their sagging farm system. The Red Sox would also avoid a bitter confrontation with Bradley’s agent – Scott Boras – if Bradley departs.
The next issue is the defense in the outfield and that means getting a competent glove who can make the right defensive decisions late in a game. Martinez can defend, but realistically he spends most of his at-bats at DH for a reason. A reserve glove would be a priority.
This is a fun or torturous or stupid exercise depending on your point of view. I can see the validity, but I can also clearly see the base foolishness. If I had the opportunity as GM or President of Baseball Operations I would sip my whiskey and have a chuckle before moving on to serious baseball business.