By Aaron Jackson,
With the Red Sox front office proclaiming that the team is going to spend money and make improvements this past week I thought it would make sense to break down who is still available at this point. This offseason has been a quiet one on the free agent market, which makes sense as you’re finally seeing teams push back on the theory that each new offseason had to set records for largest contracts. I think there will come a point when players realize they’ll have to take the best offer they can get, which may be less than they expected. Here are five names to watch for Boston.
1. JD Martinez: Let’s start with the obvious one. Martinez has been linked to the Red Sox for a long time now, with reports out there that 5-years, $125-million is on the table. That’s likely less than Scott Boras wants for his star on both fronts, but again, this year’s market seems to be swinging towards ownership, if you could call $25-million a year a swing. Obviously, no one else has matched their asking price, as he’s still a free agent. While years and dollars are certainly holding Boston back, there’s another factor to consider. Martinez has stated he wants to continue to play in the outfield, yet the Red Sox don’t have an open slot. I believe something will have to give before a deal in made.
2. Yu Darvish: I’ll admit, on the surface this one doesn’t make the most sense. The Sox have plenty of high end, high dollar pitching, and have a clear need on offense. But let’s consider for a minute that they can’t find the big bat they want at the price they want. Would it be a terrible strategy to invest in the other direction? Darvish has been a clear ace, and while pitching was a strength for Boston this past year, do we really know what to expect from anyone in the rotation other than Chris Sale? After all, if you can’t find a way to score more runs, the best option may be to give up less.
3. Todd Frazier: His name certainly isn’t going to make you jump for joy, but as a worst-case scenario bat you could certainly do worse. He’s shown he’s capable of topping 30 homers on a yearly basis, and at 31 years old he isn’t nearly as ancient as people think. He’ll likely hurt you a little in the average category, but at this point with the Sox needing major power in their lineup he could be the bargain they need.
4. Eduardo Nunez: Remember him? He quickly became a fan favorite after coming over from San Francisco and being a major spark plug late in the year. That’s when he got hurt, a situation the Red Sox terribly mishandled, resulting in him collapsing in his first playoff at bat. Nunez worked out for Boston late last week in the Dominican, and all accounts suggest he’s ready to play ball. Given Dustin Pedroia’s status, this move seems like a no brainer.
5. Carlos Gonzalez: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once a perennial all-star and one of the most exciting players in the game, Gonzalez has fallen on tough times. Last season saw him continue to regress from his 40-home run season in 2015, falling all the way to 14 home runs and a .260 batting average. At 32, could the Red Sox sign him and catch lightning in a bottle? For those skeptical, I’d point to two players who became rejuvenated in Boston after being left for washed up; Mike Lowell and Adrian Beltre. Crazier things have happened than CarGo finding his rhythm again in Boston.
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.