By Terry Cushman – @AVIDBOS_PODCAST
Today marks the final day of the 2017 G.M. meetings before all executives head back to their home bases. From there they will begin to assess and analyze the data and input they got acquired from other general managers and player agents. No big moves have been made thus far in the three previous days.
What has been learned is that the Marlins appear to be very unrealistic in their return package demands from teams who currently are showing interest in Giancarlo Stanton. For the Marlins to expect high end prospects AND a team to take on the full remaining $295,000,000 remaining on Stanton’s contract does not sound reasonable or realistic. Only the St. Louis Cardinals have had serious dialogue with the Marlins..
The other player of widespread interest is free agent J.D. Martinez. Scott Boras disclosed publicly that he is looking for a seven year contract worth $210,000,000 for the 30 year old Martinez. Stanton ironically was the last position player to receive a contract above $200M, three years ago, and his team is desperately trying to relieve themselves of it . So needless to say, it’s universally expected that the Martinez and Boras’ asking price will drop significantly in the coming weeks, especially plenty of outfield power hitting options are available on the market.
For the Red Sox specifically, adding a power hitter is the utmost priority given their meager 2017 power numbers. What some fans forget, especially the “Stanton-or-Bust” crowd, is just two years ago the Boston Red Sox were the number one offense in all of major league baseball. Granted, David Ortiz was still a member of that team, and had one of the best years of his career. However, it’s still perfectly reasonable to expect Mookie Betts returning to MVP calibur form, and Benintendi continuing his upward trend to possible MVP contention. If those stars align, suddenly the Red Sox will look much more formidable. It is also fair to expect Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, and Jackie Bradley Jr to perform more closer to their 2016 numbers than their 2017 numbers.
Dave Dombrowski does not seemed honed in on Stanton at the moment. The frame work of a deal is just too complicated. On Tuesday Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald reported that Stanton, who has a full no trade clause and can veto any trade proposal, would not accept a trade to the Red Sox or the Cardinals. That’s not a good “look” for a player who wants to play for a winning team, and get the hell out of Miami. That very tune changed drastically on Wednesday when Stanton was reported to be “open minded,” and would possibly play for any team. My suspicion is that the Marlins front office, coupled with his agents had a little chit-chat with him on laying low so the media can’t interfere with negotiations. Another complication is that Stanton has an opt out clause that kicks in after the 2020 season. So is giving up a huge haul of prospects which may or may not contain Benintendi or Devers worth it for only three years? Especially given the fact Stanton has sent signals of which he doesn’t necessarily WANT to play in Boston? All things considered, the smart thing for Dombrowski to do is walk away.
Before Boras announced the $210M figure for Martinez, I was saw a projection on MLBTR that his market was six years at $150M. I thought THAT even was too much. Yoenis Cespedes is generally regarded as a better offensive player than Martinez, and he got five years at $125M last off season from the Mets. That contract seemed realistic for what Martinez could expect to receive. Edwin Encarnacion was thought to be in line for a huge contract last off season, but signed in late January with the Indians for three guaranteed years at $60M. If a current GM does soon lay down and cave to Scott Boras’ demands by giving Martinez a gigantic contract, that team will have gotten TERRIBLE value compared to what the Mets & Indians got for their respective players. The smart thing for Dombrowski to do here again, is to simply walk away. Let another GM be stupid. As I mentioned in a previous piece, only once in the history of the World Series was it won with a player on it’s roster making more than $175M. That was the Yankees back in 2009 with Alex Rodriguez. So for the GM who does make the potentially fatal mistake of overpaying for Martinez… History will not be on their side.
Remember going into the 2013 season? Ben Cherington brought in Mike Napoli & Shane Victorino. Both of whom seemed to be trending downwards in their respective careers. Expectations were not very high, especially since the Red Sox were coming off a last place season. I was one of the very few who thought the Red Sox would win the division. Virtually NOBODY, including myself, thought they would ever win the 2013 World Series. The point I am making with this observation is for everyone to keep an open mind. Don’t underestimate the current talent this Red Sox roster already has. And equally as importantly, do NOT under value some of the lesser sexy names available.
My course of action at this point would be to target Jay Bruce & Eduardo Nunez. We are all familiar with what Nunez can do, as well as his versatility around the infield. Bruce hit 36 bombs and drove in 101 RBI’s in 2017. He is a perennial 30/100 player who can also play first base/corner outfield. Bruce is under the radar, but a PERFECT fit for what the Red Sox currently need. Bruce & Nunez are essentially your Napoli/Victorino moves from five years earlier.
The other beneficial aspects to pursuing those two particular players, is that it leaves room to give Mookie Betts & Chris Sale big extensions. You can also keep two of your higher regarded prospects Sam Travis & Michael Chavis in your farm system. Both of whom have shown immense potential. For all we know either one of them could be the next Kevin Youklis. Not to mention they would also be inexpensive pieces on your roster for the next several years.
The Detroit minded Dave Dombrowski would bring in either Stanton or Martinez AT ALL COSTS, much like he did Cabrera, Fielder, and Scherzer. Those costs were too high and the Tigers never won a World Series. We need an older and wiser Dombrowski to embrace a smarter, more balanced approach through this current market, to forge a path to an elusive World Series. He will either make similar mistakes he’s made throughout his career, or utilize the lessons from those mistakes. Ironically one of which, was courtesy of the Boston Red Sox only four short years ago. Hopefully Dombrowski gets it right, a lot is at stake. Possibly even his job.