By Andrew Nason
The 2017 Boston Red Sox season is over, and the crazy offseason has begun. Manager John Farrell has been fired (it’s about time), and the rumors of big name free agents and trade targets dealing Dave Dombrowski will be eyeing are spreading like wildfire.
The biggest name on most Red Sox fans minds is obvious, Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Sox have been attached to Stanton trade rumors for quite some time, as they are a team desperate to add power to their lineup and an organization that can take on his enormous contract, which still has another 10 years on it, over which he is owed about 295 million.
Acquiring Stanton would be a huge move for any organization, especially with him coming off a monster season in which he hit 59 home runs and drove in 132 runs, and made an extremely compelling case for the National League MVP award. That kind of bat in the lineup can significantly increase a good teams World Series chances, and would excite any fan base.
It also makes sense for the Marlins to want to move him. Miami hasn’t been a playoff contending team in a long time, and with so much of their money going to Stanton, Miami would be wise to trade him in order to cut his salary, which next year will be 25 million, and acquire young, cheaper talent to form a rebuild around. Stanton, who it should be noted has a no trade clause, has been reported as saying he doesn’t want any part of a rebuild and would be willing to accept a trade if that is the direction that the new ownership group, led by Yankee legend Derek Jeter decides to go.
So what sort of mega deal would it take to acquire Stanton? The answer is simple, a lot.
In all the reports and stories I’ve seen on this potential Red Sox- Marlins deal, some of the names I consistently see pop up include Jackie Bradley Jr, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts. Of those four, I’m unwilling to part with Benintendi and Betts, but would be ok with seeing Boegaerts and JBJ shipped off.
While Bogaerts remains one of the top young shortstops in baseball, his lack of power and struggles to hit consistently this past season make him expendable in my eyes. His batting average has dropped over the last two years, from .320 in 2015, to .294 in 2016 (His only All-Star season), to .273 this past year. He is still only 25 years old and I still believe he can and is one of the best shortstops in the league, but at the moment, he isn’t untouchable for me.
On the other hand, I have no problem seeing JBJ involved in any sort of trade. Yes, he is a wizard in the outfield and his glove has won games for us in the past, but this team lacks offense, and Bradley’s production at the plate is spotty at best. Bradley’s 2016 first half gave Sox fans a thrill, as he put together a 29-game hitting streak and had a batting average as high as .350 in May, which earned him an All-Star bid. Since then however, his production has dipped significantly. He finished 2016 with a .267 average, and only hit .245 this past season. Bradley is still young (27) and can be called the best defensive outfielder in baseball without much argument, but again, he’s not untouchable in my eyes.
As for Benintendi and Betts, Dombrowski should be throwing their names out of any sort of trade discussions. I get it, Stanton is one of the best players in baseball, and the Red Sox need power, but that doesn’t mean he’s worth trading away the cornerstones of this franchises future to get him. Benintendi put together a very solid rookie season, showcasing some power (20 home runs), the ability to be both a consistent and productive hitter (.271 average and 90 RBI’s), speed (20 stolen bases), and he showed great promise as an outfielder. Betts had a down year by our standards, coming off his second-place finish in the 2016 American League MVP race. His average dropped from .318 to .264, but he still led the Red Sox in home runs and RBI’s, only seeing slight drops in both those numbers. He also possesses speed on the base paths, swiping 26 bases the past two seasons. Both outfielders are under 26 years old and will be entering the prime of their careers, and while it’s possible neither of them will ever be 40 plus home run hitters, the production the Red Sox get from the two of them and the bright future they both have isn’t worth losing to acquire one player with more power.
Stanton would be a wonderful addition for the Red Sox, and in a perfect world, the 2018 team features an outfield consisting of Stanton in left, Benintendi in center, and Betts in right. Right there, that becomes the undisputed top outfield in the league, but to give up one cornerstone of a franchise plus more for another is simply not good business, no matter how exciting that player may be.
The Red Sox have plenty of other ways to add power without Stanton. JD Martinez, Logan Morrison, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas are all free agents. Moustakas is a 3rd basemen yes, but a move to 1st base wouldn’t be out of the question. Also consider the fact that Benintendi and Rafael Devers both showed signs of power this season and both now have a good amount of experience under their belts, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see their home runs and RBI’s increase in 2018. Betts and Hanley Ramirez had drops in their long balls, but both have shown the ability to hit 30 plus.
The 2018 Red Sox will need more power in the lineup to contend for a World Series, that much is clear. But they also will need their starting pitchers to be able to perform in the postseason, and they’ll need to be a lot better on the base paths. Giancarlo Stanton won’t win this team a championship, so it’s best not to sell a bright future just to solve one current problem.