The Red Sox have not had a legitimate option at second base since Dustin Pedroia's 2017 season. Jonathan India can fill that gap for the Red Sox if Craig Breslow is willing to fulfill the promises he made in his opening press conference. It is no secret that the Red Sox need to find consistency and stability in 2024 when it comes to the middle infield.
This past season, Alex Cora tried his best to find the missing piece at second base, running out nine different players at the position (Christian Arroyo, Yu Chang, Kike Hernandez, Enmanuel Valdez, Pablo Reyes, Justin Turner, Luis Urias, David Hamilton, Ceddane Rafaela). That group combined for 16 errors (second highest in MLB), and a 97.7% fielding percentage (28th in MLB).
There was little offensive assistance from the three mainstays at the position, Christian Arroyo, Enmanuel Valdez, and Luis Urias. During the season we talked about how the Red Sox should look to acquire Jonathan India at the trade deadline. I'm here to circle back and tell you why that is still the exact case.
Why a Jonathan India trade makes sense for both Red Sox and Reds
The Reds also currently have a massive predicament at middle infield: There is too much young talent. They had several young infield prospects that started getting called up last season, which crowded their infield. This caused constantly changing playing time for India, Matt McClain, Spencer Steer, and others.
Along with that, India is the oldest member of this group (27) and the most expensive with Spotrac estimating India to be worth $3.2 million. All that is to say, the Reds' lineup is too crowded and it appears that they are okay with India being the odd man out, for the right price.
As for the Red Sox, there is little standing in India's way to fill out their depleted infield. Offensively, they did not receive much help with their primary option, Christian Arroyo, who batted .241. According to his wRC+ of 65, Arroyo performed 35% worse than a league-average hitter. In order for the Red Sox to begin to compete with the ever-improving American League they will need to grab a second baseman who can be a stable and consistent piece of their lineup. Jonathan India provides exactly that at the top of the lineup, especially with Alex Verdugo looking to be on the way out, the Red Sox will look for someone who can complement Jaren Duran in the leadoff spot.
The Sox are also in desperate need of a right-handed bat, with key righties Adam Duvall and Justin Turner becoming unrestricted free agents this offseason
A potential Jonathan India trade package
In this trade package, the Reds would be able to get some more youth in their pitching staff, which is the unit that really let them down in September when they were needed most. Despite young arms like Andrew Abbott and Hunter Greene in the mix, they don't have much else to help early on.
Bryan Mata has been floating around the top of the minors for a long time and he is officially out of minor league options. He must either make the team out of camp or clear waivers. Now, depending on how aggressive Craig Breslow and company want to be in the starting pitching market this offseason, there may be little room for Mata on the 26-man roster come Opening Day.
As for Nazzan Zannetello, he was taken in the second round of last year's draft and is considered a "five-tool athlete" by Sox Prospects. While he may be someone valuable in the future for the Red Sox, he has a projected ETA of 2027. The Sox farm is currently loaded with positional player talent, and there is a lot that can change in the span of three years. If the Red Sox are looking to compete this season, Zannetello is a piece they can afford to let go of without hurting their short-term sustainability.
A lot of the pursuit of Jonathan India relies on the approach Craig Breslow opts to take this winter. But the only way the Sox get India is if chairman Tom Werner meant it when he said the Boston is ready to go "full throttle" to compete next year.
Adding a legitimate second base option is a fantastic place to start. The second base free-agent pool is incredibly thin, with Whit Merrifield and Kolton Wong being the headliners. For the Red Sox to not put themselves on a path to finish last for the fourth time in the last five years, it is in their best interests to pursue a trade for India and begin to follow through on their offseason promises.