Dave Dombrowski’s offseason mission is one Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor could appreciate: The Boston Red Sox need more power.
The Red Sox president of baseball operations spoke to reporters Thursday on a conference call introducing Tony La Russa to the organization, and he admitted the club will be in the market for a bat this winter.
“We would like to add some run production to our club,” Dombrowski told reporters. “How that ends up happening, we’ll see.”
There’s been a very obvious shift in hitting philosophy over the last few years in baseball, with an emphasis on the home run especially. More home runs were hit this season than any other in baseball history. The postseason home run record also was broken. World Series MVP George Springer hit five dingers in the Fall Classic alone, and the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers combined to hit 25 home runs, including eight in Game 2 and seven in Game 5.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox hit the fourth-fewest home runs in Major League Baseball in 2017, ranking 26th in slugging percentage and 28th in isolated power — the Astros and Dodgers finished first and fourth, respectively.
So, yeah, it should come as no surprise that Dombrowski will set out to fix that problem. How will he do it? Here are a few options.
Eric Hosmer, 1B
According to veteran MLB reporter Jon Heyman, the Red Sox have interest in Hosmer. He’s a good enough player and is coming off the best offensive season of his career. He also fits a need for the Red Sox at first base. But he’s 28 and represented by Scott Boras, so he’s going to be looking for a massive contract. He just posted a wRC+ of 135, which was a better mark than players like Anthony Rizzo and Edwin Encarnacion, and a move to Fenway Park might lead to an uptick in production. But it all comes down to the money and the length of contract; is Hosmer really worth that sort of investment?
J.D. Martinez, OF/DH
Only Giancarlo Stanton hit more home runs (33) and drove in more runs (74) than Martinez (31, 72) in the second half of the season … and Stanton did so in seven more games. Martinez missed roughly the first 40 games of the season and still hit 45 home runs. And in the long run, Martinez might be even better at Fenway Park. Look at his spray chart from last season. All those yellow, green and purple dots beyond the field dimensions are batted balls that would be home runs at Fenway that weren’t in other parks.
Yonder Alonso, 1B
If the Red Sox miss out on Hosmer or don’t want to spend what Boras is seeking, Alonso could be an interesting alternative. He’s another case of a player who seemingly came out of nowhere to hit a ton of home runs by simply trying to hit the ball in the air more often. It worked. Alonso struck out more than he ever has, but he also hit 28 home runs with a wRC+ of 132, easily the best mark of his career. Defensively, however, he’s a liability, and there’s some warranted skepticism as to whether he can keep up this sort of production, especially on the wrong side of 30. But if the price is right, he might be an intriguing first base/DH option.
Logan Morrison, 1B
The Rays ranked sixth in home runs, and no one on Tampa Bay hit more round-trippers than Morrison. It was a true breakout season for the 30-year-old, who posted a career-high .868 OPS. The defense is good enough, too. He’s another “backup” option if the Red Sox don’t sign Hosmer.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
Under new ownership, the Marlins seem ready to trade Stanton, whose value has never been higher after leading the big leagues with 59 home runs in 2017. The price is appropriately sky-high, and trading for Stanton would mean parting with big league pieces. In addition to having to part way with valuable long-term assets, taking on Stanton’s contract also would be akin to a huge free agent signing. He’s still early on in a $325 million contract and will make at least $29 million annually through the 2027 season. It would be a franchise-altering trade, but he’s the best power hitter in the game today, and he’s probably the best power hitter of his generation.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
Again, if the Marlins are looking to sell off pieces, Dombrowski should be in constant contact with the Fish, because as bad as they’ve been, they have some talented players. Ozuna also is one of those players. He’s coming off a season in which he hit 37 home runs with 124 RBIs but obviously was overshadowed by Stanton. His .548 slugging percentage ranked ninth in the National League, and he’d be a major upgrade in the middle of the lineup. He’s also younger than Stanton and obviously cheaper. Those considerations, however, make him more likely to be a player Miami would like to keep.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
The Red Sox and White Sox are no strangers to offseason trades just one year removed from the Chris Sale blockbuster. Abreu has averaged 31 home runs over four big league seasons since coming to MLB from Cuba, posting at least 100 RBIs in each campaign. He’s also very cost-effective, under team control through 2020. Of course, like Ozuna, that will make him a more valuable trade commodity, and while the White Sox aren’t ready to contend yet, they ultimately could value the 30-year-old as an important piece to the ongoing rebuild.
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