5 moves the Red Sox should make when the MLB lockout ends
Red Sox Trade Target: IF/OF Ketel Marte
Ketel Marte finished fourth in National League MVP voting in 2019 after slashing .329/.389/.592 with 32 home runs, 92 RBIs, and 97 runs scored. After a down season during the abbreviated 2020 campaign that still saw him end with a .287 batting average, the switch-hitter finished 2021 with a .318/.377/.532 slashline, 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 90 games. He has finished in the top 4% of the league in Max EV each of the last two seasons, and was in the top 2% for xBA last year.
Marte is also a versatile defender who can play both middle infield positions and all three outfield positions. That alone makes him an intriguing acquisition when considering how Bloom and Cora prioritize defensive versatility, as do his team-friendly club options through the 2024 season (Marte will make $8M/$10M/$12M over the next three seasons). Marte would slot seamlessly into second base for the Red Sox in 2022, and would provide insurance at shortstop if Xander Bogaerts chooses to test free agency next off season.
With SoxProspects.com estimating Marcelo Mayer’s arrival to come in late 2024, Marte’s current contract could offer the perfect transition into the Mayer era if Bogaerts does in fact depart Boston after the season.
Why would the Diamondbacks trade Marte?
Arizona finished in the basement of the NL West in each of the last two seasons and they have a long road to climb to compete with the Giants, Dodgers and Padres. Marte is entering his age 28 season and the Diamondbacks would be wise to maximize their return on him, rather than waste his prime years on what are likely to be unfulfilling seasons in Arizona. The Diamondbacks could expedite their rebuild by using Marte to bring back a package of prospects who will be entering their prime when the team will be positioned to compete.
What would the Red Sox need to trade to acquire Marte?
The Diamondbacks would likely be seeking a package of prospects in return if they are to part with Marte, perhaps something like a prospect on the fringe of being major league ready, a younger top 10 organizational prospect, and an additional lower-tier prospect. Bloom has done an incredible job of revamping the Red Sox farm system since he took over, but at some point the time will come for him to begin using some of the prospects he’s acquired to go get proven major league talent. And the time to do so may be to acquire a past MVP candidate just entering his prime to fill a glaring positional need at second base.
A package of Jeter Downs, Gilberto Jimenez, and perhaps a lower-tier pitching prospect – like Luis De La Rosa, acquired as a PTBNL in the Andrew Benintendi trade – could get the job done.
Downs projects to arrive in the majors by the end of 2022, per SoxProspects.com, and could fill the starting second base opening in Arizona left by Marte for years to come. Jimenez is the Red Sox’ No. 9 prospect and is projected to reach the majors by 2024. He can play all three outfield positions and projects to have a high ceiling with his incredible athleticism and speed. De La Rosa is a 19-year-old RHP who SoxProspects.com notes has an “Intriguing arm with advanced feel for pitching for his age… Is athletic with a fresh arm and has physical projection… has the athleticism teams look for in a pitcher.”
Why the trade makes sense for both teams:
Marte checks several boxes for Bloom, Cora, and Co. – positional need, defensive versatility, cost effectiveness, and more. Bloom has built up a treasure chest of prospects since shipping Betts and David Price to LA, but not all of them have a place in the Red Sox future. Downs and Jimenez are talented players but can be deemed dispensable to Bloom for the right return. They would both project as future starters for the Diamondbacks, with their potential prime years coming at a time that Arizona should be better positioned to compete in their division. De La Rosa is a wild card prospect with high upside who would provide organizational pitching depth and could find a home in the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff a few years down the line.