For most of the last two decades, the occupation of Red Sox Designated Hitter has been filled by David Ortiz and JD Martinez.
Finding a replacement for them is no easy task.
On Tuesday, news broke that another potential DH candidate is off the board. According to several reports, the Cleveland Guardians are signing Josh Bell to a two-year, $33M deal with an opt-out after the first season.
Red Sox lose prime free agent target Josh Bell to Guardians
The Sox were targeting José Abreu as a DH/1B option, but he signed a three-year, $58M contract with the Houston Astros. That will likely be an overspend in terms of both years and salary, so the Sox were wise not to overplay their hand. But Bell’s agreement with Cleveland is significantly lower than projected. It’s exactly the kind of short-term contract Chaim Bloom keeps giving out in Boston; Trevor Story is still the only player he’s signed to a deal in excess of two years.
Bell, a 30-year-old switch-hitter, would’ve offered the Red Sox a bit of bat power as well as another option at first base, where he’s already logged over 6,000 career innings. His 17 home runs in 2022 would’ve been the second-most on the Red Sox roster behind Rafael Devers, who hit 27. And the Sox have been interested in Bell’s talents before; they were linked to him before this summer’s trade deadline, but ended up with Eric Hosmer, instead.
‘What are the Red Sox doing?’ continues to be one of the biggest questions of the offseason and Winter Meetings. As of yet, far too much talk, and not nearly enough walk. Criticism abounds from every corner of the baseball world: media members, former players, current players, and of course, fans.
And as worthy targets continue to come off the board, their intentions and priorities only grow more suspect.