MLB Free Agents 2019-20: Top 5 designated hitters
One of the biggest question marks of the Red Sox' offseason is the future of J.D. Martinez. Will he or won't he opt out of his contract and test the free-agent waters yet again?
If he does, Boston is put into a tough position. There aren't a whole lot of guys out there -- if any -- who can step right into Martinez's DH slot and put up numbers anything close to the 2018 World Series champion's level of production.
If Martinez indeed decides to sign elsewhere (the White Sox, perhaps?), the Sox could be left scrambling for a cheap short-term replacement off the open market. Here's a look at the top options this winter:
1. J.D. Martinez
*Player Option for 2020
If Martinez opts out, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. It'll be difficult to bring him back on a monster contract given the organization's desire to shed payroll -- especially if the Red Sox hope to commit long-term to Mookie Betts -- but exploring a new deal with the DH/OF should be the first order of business if he opts out.
Martinez followed his exceptional debut season with the Red Sox by hitting .304 with 36 homers and 105 RBI in 2019.
UPDATE: J.D. Martinez has decided not to opt out of his Red Sox contract and will not become a free agent.
2. Edwin Encarnacion
*Club Option for 2020
For Encarnacion, age is just a number. The soon-to-be 37-year-old made it eight straight seasons with 30+ homers in 2019. If Martinez leaves, and the Yankees don't exercise Encarnacion's option, it'll be interesting to see if Boston targets the slugger on a short-term contract.
3. Hunter Pence
Hunter Pence's 2019 season ended prematurely due to injury, but what a season it was. Just when it looked like retirement was on the table for the ex-Giants slugger, he made it onto the American League All-Star team as a key part of the Rangers offense.
4. Mark Trumbo
A knee injury kept Trumbo out for most of the 2019 campaign, but he should be back to hitting bombs next season. This is a guy who blasted 47 home runs only three years ago with the Baltimore Orioles.
5. Kendrys Morales
Morales struggled mightily in 2019, ending his streak of four consecutive seasons with 20+ home runs. A comeback year could be in the works for the veteran as some of his issues last season can be blamed on injuries, and plenty of teams could be looking for a slugger who can mash against left-handed pitching.