By Aaron Jackson
As the weather gets colder many of us long for the days of warm sunshine and baseball. While that may feel like years away right now, baseball’s Winter Meetings are right around the corner, and the Red Sox figure to play a prominent role in any deals being made. Ignoring the trade possibilities (do the Red Sox really have enough in the cupboard to make a big deal?), here are 5 free agents that Boston will take a long look at.
- Shohei Ohtani: This guy could be the real deal. Depending on who you ask, he compares favorably to Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout, which tells me he probably won’t be either, but those are pretty high marks to try and hit. Ohtani is certainly a player that many teams will be after as he will come relatively cheap given what he’s capable of, and his age (23 years old). Ohtani is already being called the Japanese Babe Ruth as he is a prodigious power hitter and has topped out at 100mph on the mound. You’d have to wonder whether there’s a team out there willing to let him do both and that may be the deciding factor as Ohtani has requested a letter from every team interested detailing how they’ll use him. Given the price and the performance so far in Japan, I think the Red Sox should go all in after this guy. I would DH him 3-4 times a week, pitch him every 5th day and have some regular off days scattered around as well.
- D. Martinez: Martinez is a major late bloomer, and a bit of a defensive liability, which may not matter depending on Boston’s plan for him. He’s been really good for four years now, and hits for consistent power and average. At 30 years, old it’s fair to wonder if this next big contract will be his last, meaning you may get 2-3 years of high level production before you start to see his numbers fall off. Martinez is going to cost some team a ton of money, but he’s certainly the power bat Sox fans dream of.
- Eric Hosmer: I’m just going to say this now before going on…I don’t want him in Boston. I think he’s a nice enough player, but he’s going to get paid like he’s a superstar. If you moved his numbers to short or second I might bite, but at first the guy is just average. His career high in home runs is 25, and he’s never finished with a slugging percentage over .500. Supporters of signing Hosmer will claim you’re getting a player that is a guarantee to hit around .300, but that’s just not true. In fact, in his 7 year career he’s hit over .300 for a season just twice, while finishing at .270 or below 3 times. I’m also always leery of players that have career years when they’re about to become a free agent; which Hosmer did. The Sox will do their due diligence, but my interest level is low.
- Yonder Alonso: Another late bloomer, Alonso saw his age 30 season be the one where he finally broke into the big leagues. He hit 28 home runs between Oakland and Seattle while maintaining a good average and a very good on base percentage. The problem here of course is that he has 5 years of mediocre to bad play before this past year suggesting he may have been an aberration. Here’s the deciding factor for me though: would you rather have Alonso plus 100 million dollars in cash, or Eric Hosmer? The answer for me is an easy one. Alonso is a cheap solution that could pay major dividends in the short term.
- Todd Frazier: Talk around the trade deadline last season was it was only a matter of time before Frazier came to Beantown that is before the Yankees swooped in and stole him. Frazier’s not going to be a big splash like many are expecting, but he could be a short term solution at the corners and at DH. He’ll hit for power and a mediocre average, but considering the Red Sox lack of homers last year that may be enough. If Dave Dombrowski decides the asking price on the big names is too high, don’t be shocked if this is the move they make.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.