Red Sox

Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

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Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

While the Red Sox’ interest in free agents J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer has been well-documented, it may not be a one-or-the-other situation. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Boston’s intention is to sign both Martinez and Hosmer in an effort to strengthen an offense that finished last in the American League in home runs in 2016. Though Dave Dombrowski declined to comment on any and all free agent discussions, Silverman wrote that the team’s “goal is to sign them both.” 

Martinez, 30, has seen his power numbers fluctuate throughout his career. He belted 29 homers in 62 games after getting traded to the Diamondbacks last season to finish the campaign with a career-best 45 homers between Detroit and Arizona. His previous career-high in home runs was 38, which he hit in 2015 with the Tigers. 

The 28-year-old Hosmer, who has played his entire career with the Royals since being drafted third overall by them in 2008, hit .318/.385/.498 last season with 25 homers and 94 RBI. He’s hit 25 home runs in back-to-back seasons; they are the only two seasons of his seven-year career in which he’s hit 20 or more.
 
Silverman estimates that signing both players could cost as much as a combined $450 million. 

With hellacious slider, Chris Sale is actually getting better

With hellacious slider, Chris Sale is actually getting better

Chris Sale is on more than just a good run. The best pitcher in the American League has actually gotten better.

Sale’s ability to light up the radar gun has been noticeable. He hit triple digits once again in the All-Star Game — now a regular occurrence, although he maxed out at just 99 mph on Sunday. After his third straight Midsummer Classic start, Sale attributed the recent boost in velocity to multiple things, including the Red Sox strength and conditioning staff. As pitching coach Dana LeVangie has said at different points, Sale came into this year with a plan, and is executing it wonderfully.

What stands out beyond the velocity is the slider.

Per Statcast, 46 of the 99 pitches Sale threw on Sunday vs. the Tigers were sliders. He’s using his breaking ball more this year than he ever has in his career as a starter, for good reason. 

The big jump in usage came from 2016 to 2017. But in movement? This season has been tremendous. He’s getting about eight inches of movement on the pitch, up from about 5 inches in 2016 and 5 1/2 inches in 2017, per BrooksBaseball.net's measurements:

That was heading into Sunday. Peek at the Statcast numbers over at BaseballSavant.com, and what do you find: more and more spin on the slider as the years have gone on.

The slider in 2015: an average of 2,206 RPM. The next year, 2,251. In 2017, it was 2,395. This year, 2,478.

In the seven-start stretch leading into Sunday’s start, the number was 2,525. 

How? The Red Sox think part of it has to do with how square Sale’s hand is at the point of release. A better spin axis means more of the spin can translate to movement. Pitchers very often don't maximize their spin.

Sale's vertical release point is also lower overall in 2018: not to a huge degree, but as low it’s been basically since 2013. There's a belief  that finishing his delivery lower, towards his knee rather than his hip, may be helping the extra movement.

At the end of the day, Sale is a phenomenal athlete who thrives on rest that the Sox are fostering and an intense routine. He was already awesome, and with some help from the Red Sox coaches and staff, he’s only making himself better as he marches toward his first Cy Young award.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

The Baseball Show Podcast: Will the Red Sox make a trade before the deadline?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Will the Red Sox make a trade before the deadline?

0:23 - Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich discuss Chris Sale's continued dominance as he shuts down the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Sale now has an incredible 0.27 ERA in his last 5 starts.

4:24 - Will the Red Sox make a trade prior to the deadline? Do they have enough ammo to bring in an impact player? Merloni and Drellich talk about what positions the Red Sox should look to upgrade before July 31st.

9:05 - David Price started off the unofficial 2nd half of the season with 6.1 innings of shutout ball. Is he someone the Red Sox can rely on going forward? Lou and Evan break down what they expect to see from Price.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE