Examining the Red Sox trade options with J.D. Martinez
The Boston Red Sox in the 2022 season will take a salary cap hit of $22 million for a Designated Hitter. J.D. Martinez will be on the last season of his five-year deal with the Red Sox that has seen the right-handed slugger be one of the best at this particular specialty. Is it a luxury the team is willing to absorb for another season? This is clearly never too early to discuss the team’s future article.
The Universal DH is still in play and it is a distinct possibility that the National and American League will finally align on the DH. That will potentially increase the possibility of Martinez being traded. The possible salary relief could be a tempting option for Boston especially with contractual issues surfacing with Rafael Devers and potentially Xander Bogaerts.
Martinez has recovered from a dismal and disappointing 2020 season. Among the leader board for DH, Martinez is ranked second just behind Shohei Ohtani. This will all come down to the bang for the buck and at his current salary level, the Red Sox could look elsewhere for options.
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The DH position is fluid with teams either relegating the majority at-bats to one player or using a DH by committee. If the Red Sox jettison Martinez just how is the role filled? My player of choice would be Nick Castellanos of Cincinnati. The right-hand slugger produces, but his contract is only slightly lower than Martinez’s. A sideways move. And costly with what the Reds would expect in return.
The Red Sox could do this internally. Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis are two that highlight internal. Both would be – based on their history – a significant drop in production. The minors offer a few intriguing options, but they remain a tad down the road. Triston Casas is considered at least two seasons away. Jarren Duran has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, but do you remove Duran from defensive duties? Duran is slotted as a team outfielder of the future.
The Red Sox could do the merry-go-round at DH, but not every player can adjust to that role. Some love it and others hate it. As a day-off measure, it is nice to keep Bogarets or Devers bat in the game. As a regular routine that may have negative consequences. The best option is to settle on experience.
Do you look for a player that will be your DH for life or just a one (or two) and done? A stopgap. Nelson Cruz never seems to get old and is still slugging away at 41-years-old. Otherwise, the pickings are rather slim on possible free agents.
Castellanos may not provide payroll relief but the Mariners Mitch Haniger could. Hangier fits the profile for the Red Sox with a home run bat and right-handed hitter. The issue is trade value. What would it take to get Haniger from the M’s? Is it worth the possible prospect price?
Jorge Soler had one monster season for the Royals and since then has been of minimal impact. Soler’s possible price is now dropping. Joey Gallo has been far more productive and is a free agent at the season’s end. Like Soler, the left-hand hitting Gallo rings up huge whiff totals. Trey Mancini would be a creditable addition, but, then again, the trade would be a hit on the Red Sox growing and developing farm system. The O’s may be crazy but not that crazy.
What it all comes down to is the Red Sox are better off with Martinez than without him. The positive of the payroll is at least it is not Giancarlo Stanton’s. The Red Sox would be best served simply holding on to Martinez until the end of 2022. Saving the money simply presents too many negative options to be considered a sensible move.