The Red Sox are definitely going after J.D. Martinez, that much we know. They reportedly met at Winter Meetings and based on GM Dave Dombrowski’s comments to the huddled media masses, he is their top target.
But they didn’t land him during their time in Orlando, and as everyone is getting on flights and figuring out their next steps, he is still in their sights, but another free agent has also more fully entered the picture.
Eric Hosmer and the Red Sox have been circling each other bit by bit this offseason, and now it looks like the Sox are taking the idea of offering a contract to one of the youngest hitters available more seriously. You won’t find Dombrowski saying that publicly, though. When meeting with media earlier this week, including The Boston Herald, he said,
"I've read that, but I don't know where we'd play those two bats. I'm trying to figure that one out. But I would say we'd be more limited to probably one bat. I can't say that — I guess if we went for a platoon-type guy or something somewhere else, but I don't really know where that second bat would play. Middle-of-the-order type. I mean you can get a better offense, but a middle-of-the-order type bat."
The obvious answer to that — and not one the GM is about to admit out loud — is that they would need to trade Hanley Ramirez and his $22 million a year contract. Which would be tricky. But that would allow Hosmer to handle first base responsibilities and keep Martinez’s bat in the lineup as a DH.
This tactic makes far more sense than only going after Hosmer. If they can land Martinez first and secure his offense for a few years (and a lot of money), then Hosmer is a nice supporting cast member to that high-powered strategy.
You’d then have Martinez, the dinger magician, leading the way with something that is hopefully close to his 45 home runs in 2017 and Hosmer available as another nice boost with 25-30 home runs and a .315 batting average or so in his 29-year-old season. That’s a much better alternative than relying on Hosmer to handle all of the offensive needs on a team that really needs the extra offense, and if he drops off slightly next season (as could be expected if you take a look at his numbers before last year), then Martinez is there to pick up the slack as needed.
It would all take quite a bit of money, of course, but the Red Sox are going to have to make a corresponding move to what the Yankees have done this offseason already. While a Martinez signing would be a decent counterstroke to their aggressiveness, having Hosmer on the roster as well would make what is otherwise a good response to New York’s moves even better.