Boston Red Sox (93-69), 1st in the AL East
Free Agents: 1B Mitch Moreland, RP Addison Reed, OF Chris Young, OF Rajai Davis, RHP Doug Fister
Yes, the Red Sox were one of the best teams in the American League in 2017. Yes, they won the AL East for the ninth time. Yes, they made the playoffs for the 22nd time in their storied franchise’s history.
But, the Red Sox had high expectations of winning an AL pennant and/or capturing a World Series title. Those goals never came to fruition after losing to the eventual world champion Astros in four games.
So far this offseason, the Red Sox have already started making moves in order to improve from last year. The first was firing John Farrell as manager and hiring former Astros bench coach Alex Cora to lead the club in 2018.
The big tasks that are ahead of Cora, Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and company are to get a power bat and a quality setup man, according to Ian Browne of MLB.com.
Ultimately, the Red Sox missed having David Ortiz’s big bat in the lineup. The Red Sox’s offense was done significantly across every major hitting category, making it imperative to get someone who could put up similar numbers to Ortiz’s final season (38 homers, 127 RBI, 1.021 OPS).
So far, the Red Sox have been identified as the favorite to land J.D. Martinez in free agency, according to a survey of anonymous general managers conducted by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. They are also reportedly a suitor trying to acquire Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Either Martinez or Stanton would immediately provide the boom in their lineup. After being traded to the Diamondbacks midway through the season, Martinez blasted 29 homers and knocked in 65 runs while slashing .302/.366/.741 in 62 regular season games. As for Stanton, he hit an MLB-best 59 homers, had 132 RBI and posted a 1.007 OPS.
However, there are some questions about both players.
For Martinez, will they sign him for the $200 million that the 30-year-old right-handed hitter is seeking? Also, will Martinez be able to continue this production after having only two seasons in which he hit over 30 homers and had over 100 RBI?
When it comes to Stanton, can the Red Sox afford to take on his gaudy contract ($295 million remaining over the next 10 years)? Also, do they have enough to get Stanton after dealing most of their top prospects in the Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel trades? Moreover, would Stanton waive his no-trade clause to go there?
If they can’t land Martinez or Stanton, the Red Sox could try to go after Eric Hosmer and fill the need at first base since Mitch Moreland is a free agent. Hosmer may not have the same type of power as Stanton or Martinez, but can still be an upgrade because he is a consistent hitter, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and a guy who helped the Royals win a World Series.
As far as relief pitching goes, this depends on what happens with Addison Reed, who is a free agent. If he bolts from Boston, the Red Sox can try to pursue Bryan Shaw, Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek or Pat Neshek in hopes one of them can fulfill the setup role.