BOSTON — The Red Sox think it’s unlikely is Eduardo Nunez back before the postseason, and it’s not a certainty at this point he’ll make the first-round roster.
Coming back from a right knee injury, Nunez hit on the field, took grounders and did some 40-yard sprints in the outfield on Friday. He hasn’t attempted baserunning yet, and won’t until next week.
“We’ll put together some simulated action Monday or Tuesday in workouts here,” manager John Farrell said. “[Base running] will be built into his BP on Sunday when he hits live on the field here. We’ll incorporate that coming out of the box and simulate as much as possible.”
Whether the Red Sox would carry Nunez if he’s available only as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter isn’t clear.
“I think that’s probably going to be dependent upon what we see he’s capable of and how he comes out of those simulated settings,” Farrell said, “so that’s yet to be determined.”
Free agent slugger J.D. Martinez has told the Red Sox he would DH and play the outfield for them, a baseball source said Friday. The flipside: teams are offering Martinez a full-time outfield job, and he enjoys playing the outfield.
Martinez, the best bat available via free agency, visited with teams at the winter meetings this week.
Michael Silverman of the Herald wrote Friday that Martinez has been telling teams he prefers to play the outfield, and suggested the Sox will have to pay a bit more to land Martinez.
“Martinez remains open to being a DH so his preference to play defense regularly does not eliminate the Red Sox from signing Martinez,” Silverman wrote. “It does, however, put them in a position of having to make an aggressive offer that would distance themselves from competing offers where teams can present a corner outfield position.
“Just what defines aggressive is something only Martinez and his agent Scott Boras will ultimately determine.”
The market could start to move a bit now, although that doesn’t mean anything is necessarily imminent. Another baseball source on Friday night noted that the market has started to thaw with Carlos Santana off the board. He agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies.
The Red Sox made an offer for Santana, but the offer made clear that Santana was not their primary choice. In other words, it wasn't close to what Santana ended up with.
A scenario in which Jackie Bradley Jr. is traded to make room for Martinez in the outfield seems reasonable, even if the Red Sox and Boras, who represents Bradley, have both downplayed that possibility.
The Red Sox options for a power bat grew fewer and likely more expensive Friday when former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com and MLB Network was first to report the Santana deal, which comes as somewhat as a surprise with the rebuilding Phillies making a free-agent splash.
The Red Sox reportedly met with Santana earlier this offseason. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Sox offered a three-year deal to Santana that wasn't in the range of the Phillies.
He doesn't hit for a high average (.249 career), but his combination of power and walks gives him a career OPS of .810. Last season he hit .259 with 23 homers and 79 RBI and an .818 OPS, and over his career, he has averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI over 162 games.
That Santana was able to command a $20-million-a-year deal from the Phillies likely raises the price of the other power bats the Sox had reportedly targeted, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.