Whatever your thoughts might be around the 2017 season, it's now in the rear view mirror. It's time to start looking at the Red Sox roster, the lingering injuries, the contracts and start evaluating position by position.
Let's now take a look at the outfield and DH positions, looking at what possibly might happen for 2018.
The Red Sox outfield has got to be the envy of the AL if not the entire major leagues. From left to right these are young talented starters with great defensive metrics and solid offensive punch. Yet there are some decisions to be made with regards to the Red Sox outfield in 2018.
This position was owned by Andrew Benintendi (123 games, 30 games in center field) and he provided a solid 20 HR with 90 RBI and a .271 AVG in 2017. He did commit five errors but had 11 outfield assists. The Red Sox will be quite happy with this for the time being and his initial depth backup will remain Chris Young who is signed through 2018.
For 2018 outfield, it really does not matter what position, the Red Sox should consider signing another power bat or start giving Rusney Castillo more of a chance. Castillo hit .395 AVG against lefties in Pawtucket but his salary ($72.5 million over seven years) might be an issue on the major league roster if they spend on a big bat. There are other bats available, such as Howie Kendrick, but though his batting average is over .300, he lacks power and might run the Red Sox $10 million per year. Rajai Davis could be resigned but not sure he would want to be slotted in as depth for the outfield if he can play daily elsewhere.
Of course there's J.D. Martinez, but that falls in the DH discussion below.
In 2017 Jackie Bradley Jr was a defensive star (132 games) and his offense was enough as a center fielder with 17 HR and 63 RBI. There is little reason or upside to use him in a trade, as the defensive loss would be hard to compensate with a power bat. Bradley Jr makes the pitching staff look better and has one of the power arms in the majors.
For 2018 the Red Sox can use the aforementioned options to support their staring center fielder.
Fenway has one of the harder right fields to cover and in 2017 Mookie Betts was nothing short of amazing. He did have injuries to deal with at the end of the season but still put up 102 RBI, 24 HR and hit for .264 AVG. He led the team in HR most of the season, making the DH position look really weak.
In 2018 the Red Sox keep Mookie Betts in right field with the back up options previously mentioned.
This was the disappointment of 2017, Hanley Ramirez trying to fill in the big empty shoes left behind by David Ortiz. He changed his swing and became a violent all-or-nothing hitter which led to some solo HR, but mostly to a lot of runners left on base (LOB). With a year left on his $88 million dollar deal and a $22 million option for 2019 if Ramirez makes enough plate appearances, the Red Sox need to face facts and cut him loose. His ailing shoulder kept him off the field, just 18 games at first base, with another 108 games at DH making him too expensive to not produce. Did you see how he turned on the motivation in game three of the ALDS and not wonder where that was in the regular season? In that ALDS Ramirez changed his swing and started hitting to the situation, instead of just 23 HR and 62 RBI over the regular season. Cutting Ramirez loose would cost $22 million, but that's a sight better than $44 over the next two years. It worked for Pablo Sandoval, so time to face the facts and look for a real power bat to avoid the Red Sox sitting in the power basement of the American League.
#RedSox finished last in the American League in home runs for the first time since 1930.
For 2018 the Red Sox need to fix the DH and sign someone with real power. The prime target would be Martinez who has been hitting +.300 AVG three of the last four seasons, combined for 45 HR and 104 RBI this season. He is a hitter to be feared and would eat up the Monster at Fenway Park.
Another intriguing option might be Giancarlo Stanton who is known for his awesome power and when healthy delivers +100 RBI seasons. The contract needs to be moved off the Marlins books and the Red Sox have the farm system to make it possible, maybe adding some pitching to the deal. Who doesn't want to see if Stanton can reach the freeway beyond the Green Monster?
Eric is a contributing writer since 2013 and a true Overseas Fan of the Boston Red Sox living in the Netherlands. He's spent years on baseball fields around the world pitching. His weekends are now spent helping the next generations of pitchers to find their passion and love for the sport. More articles by Eric: https://www.redsoxlife.com/search/label/ericschabell