Red Sox

Don't worry about J.D. Martinez opting out; Red Sox are perfect fit, and he has nowhere to go

Don't worry about J.D. Martinez opting out; Red Sox are perfect fit, and he has nowhere to go

We tend to judge massive Red Sox free agent contracts in degrees of disaster. Hanley Ramirez? Not a total disaster. Jack Clark? Disaster. Carl Crawford? Unmitigated disaster. Pablo Sandoval? Historic disaster.

Then there's J.D. Martinez. Linked to the Red Sox for the entire 2018 offseason, he finally signed during spring training. All he has done since is anchor the middle of the lineup, make a pair of All-Star teams, and finish fourth in the MVP voting while flirting with a Triple Crown. Nothing disastrous here.

That's called a positive return-on-investment, and it puts both player and team in an interesting position this fall. With an opt-out in his contract, Martinez could become a free agent and once again test the market, with the expectation that he'll do better than the three years and $62.5 remaining on his five-year, $110 million deal.

In the old days, the decision would be what the old insurance commercial called the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth. Opt out, cash in, watch the dollars flow. That's how Alex Rodriguez ended up banking over $400 million for his career.

These aren't the old days, however. They're strange new ones, where even players as proven and productive as Martinez don't necessarily know if there'll be a market for their services. And so it is that we make the following prediction:

Martinez isn't going anywhere this offseason.

It's not necessarily fair, but it is reality. He's due $23.75 million before his salaries drop to $19.35 million in each of the final two years. The question is who might want him, and once you start breaking down rosters and needs, the pickings look slim.

The most obvious answer is the Red Sox, and if Martinez does opt out, it would seem his safest bet would be simply to re-sign and recoup some of the money he expected to make here the first time around. Would four years and $100 million get it done? Sounds reasonable to me.

But failing that, there's no obvious landing spot for the 32-year-old slugger, who has reached 30 homers in four of his last five seasons and is currently white hot as the Red Sox throw a Hail Mary at the wild card, with his 32nd homer helping the Red Sox beat the Rockies on Wednesday night.

First off, let's rule out the National League. While Martinez can play an acceptable outfield, he's a prime breakdown candidate if forced to play the position daily, especially as he ages into his mid-30s. It's hard to imagine the money being there on anything other than a short-term deal, given those risks.

So that leaves American League teams willing and able to spend at least $20 million on a designated hitter, and there aren't many of those.

The Yankees would normally be a possibility, but they hold a $20 million option on All-Star slugger Edwin Encarnacion that would only require a one-year commitment. More likely is they let Encarnacion walk, divide the position between Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, and some of their other sluggers, and instead devote their resources to rebuilding a starting rotation that is already hanging by a thread, and is about to lose CC Sabathia to retirement.

The small-market Rays can play young slugger Austin Meadows at DH if they wish, and if they don't, they'll find a cheaper option. The Blue Jays have the makings of a dynamic young offense behind sluggers Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but after trading ace Marcus Stroman, they desperately need pitching. The Orioles? Please.

In the AL Central, the Twins hold a $12 million option on the ageless Nelson Cruz, who slammed 33 homers in 94 games before tearing a wrist tendon. Picking that up is an easy call. The Indians just acquired slugger Franmil Reyes from the Padres and are usually looking to cut costs, anyway. The White Sox should have money to spend, but they've got an internal DH candidate in first baseman Jose Abreu and a need for pitching. The Royals? Please.

The AL West brings more of the same. Houston's Yordan Alvarez should win the Rookie of the Year Award while posting monster numbers. The A's have signed slugger Khris Davis through 2021. The Rangers owe Shin-Soo Choo $21 million next year. The Angels have dedicated the DH position to former two-way standout Shohei Ohtani, and let's not forget they're still on the hook for two more years of Albert Pujols, who turns 40 in January. The Mariners? Anything's possible, I suppose.

If you're Martinez, does any of the above sound tantalizing? Unless the Red Sox are willing to deal, the market doesn't look to be shaping up favorably. His best bet requires patience: sit tight, mash again in 2020, and opt out of his final two years, when he'll simply need to beat two years and $40 million in free agency.

That's a much better bet. For now, he should just stay put.

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Red Sox select possible Brock Holt replacement in Rule 5 draft from Astros

Red Sox select possible Brock Holt replacement in Rule 5 draft from Astros

The Red Sox didn't leave the winter meetings empty-handed after all.

On Thursday, they selected infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft. The switch-hitting infielder must spend the season on the big league roster or be offered back to the Astros for $50,000. He will compete for a roster spot as a utilityman, with the Red Sox likely moving on from free agent Brock Holt.

"He came to us highly recommended from our scouts and our analysts," VP of pro scouting Gus Quattlebaum told reporters in San Diego. "Younger guy, switch hitter, versatile glove, we think we can bounce him all around the infield. Has some work to do physically to get stronger, but we like his bat-to-ball skills, can use the field, so we're excited to give him an opportunity to compete for a utility infield position."

Arauz, 21, is a lifetime .243 hitter in the minors. Signed by the Phillies in 2014 out of Panama, he went to the Astros in the 2015 trade that sent closer Ken Giles to Houston and former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, among others, to Philadelphia.

He split last season between High A and Double A, hitting .249 with a career-high 11 home runs. He has spent the bulk of his minor league career at shortstop, but he also appeared in 86 games at second and 32 at third.

"We feel he can play short," Quattlebaum told reporters. "Anytime you have a young kid that you're pushing to the big leagues, the fact that he can bounce all over the infield, I think that helps his chances of sticking."

Added Quattlebaum: "We had some questions on the right side of our infield and we're looking for the most versatile athletes we can bring in to the organization. We have other guys internally that we believe in as well, but we think he can come in and compete."

The Red Sox used to be active in the Rule 5 draft in the early days of Theo Epstein, taking players like left-hander Javier Lopez, who went on to have a long career as a specialist, or speedy outfielder Adam Stern. A deep roster and farm system had left them out of the Rule 5 market in recent years, but the combination of a shallow farm system and the 26th man that will be added for the 2020 season made diving back in more palatable.

In the minor league portion of the draft, the Red Sox selected a pair of Double-A right-handers: Raynel Espinal from the Yankees and Jose Espada from the Blue Jays.

"Espinal's an older guy, he's 26 years old out of the Dominican," Quattlebaum said. "He's still recovering from Tommy John surgery, so credit our medical staff, our scouts, our analysts, they've all spoken up on all these guys that we've selected, and we came away comfortable with what we saw in the medical review. We're hopeful that he can get back, I would say sometime mid-summer. Power arm, chance to start. Wouldn't draw it up as the most cosmetic of deliveries, but our scouts and our analysts feel that he has some starter upside."

As for Espada: "Power arm," Quattlebaum said. "Missed some time last year with an elbow sprain, so not all of our scouts were able to lay eyes on him, but it's a big arm, we like the fastball-slider combo and figured it was worth a shot."

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MLB trade rumors: These 5 teams are 'in play' for Red Sox's David Price

MLB trade rumors: These 5 teams are 'in play' for Red Sox's David Price

The Boston Red Sox appear to have several potential suitors if they really want to trade starting pitcher David Price this offseason.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday an update on Price's situation, noting a few specific teams that have talked to the Red Sox about a potential trade for the veteran left-hander.

According to a source, the Red Sox have held trade talks with at least five clubs about David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner who helped lead Boston to the 2018 World Series title.

Among the teams in play for Price are the Padres, Cardinals, White Sox and Reds, while the Angels have also been in contact with the Red Sox, according to sources.

One team Feinsand doesn't mention is the Toronto Blue Jays. Sportsnet reported Wednesday night that the Blue Jays have "explored taking on David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr.," but that "the cost in both dollars and prospect capital remains too high."

Acquiring Price does not come without genuine risks for these interested teams.

He is 34 years and still has three more seasons left on his contract with an annual salary of $32 million, which, before Gerrit Cole agreed to sign with the New York Yankees, was the fifth-highest yearly base salary in baseball.

Price also wasn't very durable or effective in 2019. He posted a 7-5 record with a 4.28 ERA, 128 strikeouts and 32 walks over 107 1/3 innings. Price made 22 starts this past season, eight fewer than he did in 2018.

The Red Sox reportedly are "actively" trying to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who is entering his final year of arbitration.

Boston lost a starting pitcher Thursday morning when news broke that Rick Porcello had agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with the New York Mets. Losing both Price and Porcello in one offseason would be a real blow to a Red Sox rotation that battled injury and inconsistency throughout 2019.

Tomase: Price trade would put 2020 in jeopardy>>>

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