Replacing J.D. Martinez? How Red Sox Could Handle DH Spot In 2023

Who will be Boston's DH in 2023?


November 18

The Boston Red Sox have plenty of needs to address during Major League Baseball’s free agency period, but one that could net the biggest return is designated hitter.

Boston has pretty much been set at the position over the better half of the last two decades, with David Ortiz and J.D. Martinez combining to occupy that spot for 19 of the last 20 seasons. With Martinez approaching his age-35 season, and likely looking for one last payday, there is a question as to who will fill Boston’s DH spot in 2023.

This free agency class is full of starting pitchers and shortstops, with most other positions only having one or two true impact players available — if that. The beautiful part about needing a DH, however, is how many avenues that are available to find one. Just about anyone with a pulse and a weak arm could be looked at as an option.

The Red Sox need to figure out what they’re doing with Xander Bogaerts after he rejected their qualifying offer. They also will likely be looking to add starting pitching, another catcher, outfield depth and a number of new bullpen arms. But there’s still a question as to what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom chooses to do at DH. Let’s take a look at the options Boston has at its disposal this offseason.

Re-Sign J.D. Martinez
This is the easiest option for Boston, as Martinez has enjoyed great success in his career as a member of the Red Sox and still showed the ability to be productive in 2022.

Martinez is a true designated hitter at this stage in his career, having not played the outfield at all in 2022. The 35-year-old posted a .274/.341/.448 slash line last season, suffering from a significant power outage, only connecting on 16 home runs — his lowest in a 162-game season since 2013. Martinez, however, is still a good hitter who can consistently get on base. Boston is looking at somewhere in the ballpark of a $12 million average annual value to retain his services, and given the other players available, that may be the best bang-for-your-buck option.

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Josh Bell
Viewed as a potential MLB trade deadline acquisition for the Red Sox, could now be the time for Josh Bell to wind up in Boston. Bell wound up in San Diego at the deadline, splitting time between first base and DH. He played his best baseball when allowed to focus on hitting, finishing the season with 17 home runs, 71 RBIs, 29 doubles and 81 walks. He’ll be one of the cheaper options for Boston if it wants an established big-league hitter and nothing more.

Mitch Haniger
Haniger is the most high-risk, high-reward option on the table for Boston. He had 39 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2021, compared to just 11 and 34 in an injury-riddled 2022 season. With the Mariners going out and acquiring Teoscar Hernandez, he appears primed to find a new home this season. Having him play the majority of his games at DH could help put some of his injury concerns to bed, and also allow him to focus on the bat. He’ll cost less than $15 million per year and his right-handed swing could wear out the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Think Hunter Renfroe, but with a higher upside.

Jose Abreu
If the Red Sox really want to make a splash, this is the rout they may want to go. Somehow, at 35 years old, Abreu seems to be getting better with the bat. He posted a .304/.378/.446 slash line with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs n 2022, belting 40 doubles and walking a career-high 62 times. That was all while he played first base on a regular basis. Boston would likely get a small discount if they only ask him to serve as a DH, and could lock him into a short-term deal worth around $20 million annually. He’s a perfect fit.

Thumbnail photo via Andrew Dieb/USA TODAY Sports Images
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