In what has been a rather quiet offseason for Red Sox, excluding the hiring of Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora, we’ve yet to see them make a splash in free agency like many expected. It’s also rare to see J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, some of the top players in this free agent class, still unsigned. Hosmer and Martinez are reportedly both seeking $200 million contracts in the seven to eight year range, and at this point in the year, the Red Sox shouldn’t sign either player.
If you had asked me to two months ago, I would have been all in for signing one, if not both of these players. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve changed my attitude towards the Red Sox approach. Outside of hiring Cora, the Red Sox’s only move was resigning first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year $13 million contract. It’s a good move for the team. Morelands name isn’t flashy, but he played well in Boston last year. His numbers were as expected in 2017, where he slashed a line of a .246 batting average, with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs. The numbers were on par with his career statistics. He’s a veteran, who enjoyed playing in Boston and who held his own at first base. His contract is cheap, and the Red Sox will more than likely be getting the same production that they got from him in 2017.
Despite hitting only 168 home runs last year, which was good for last place in the American League, Red Sox fans shouldn’t worry about power in this coming season. They still got 93 wins and won their division for the second year in a row.
One of the keys to more home runs in 2018 will be the way Cora tells his players to approach each at-bat. He emphasized that the team needs to be more aggressive at the plate, meaning swinging at the first pitch if it’s a belt-high fastball. The Red Sox tried working the pitch count too much last season and it hurt them at times. With Mookie Betts expected to lead off, he’s the ideal player the Red Sox want in this situation. He dropped to 24 home runs last year after blasting 31 in his MVP caliber 2016 season. I expect that total to climb back up a bit, even if it’s only by two or three. Rookie third baseman Rafael Devers also factors in to the power hitter situation. He showed plenty of promise offensively at the end of last season and will only get better with a full offseason to work with. Devers is projected as a player who can hit close to 30 home runs in a season. He may not reach that total for a few years, but it’s worth the wait.
The Red Sox are smart for not signing players who are either 30 or are nearing 30. Give Cora a year and see if he can get more power out of this lineup. The Red Sox are already a good team with a strong core of young players. They need to keep it this way, and if things don’t pan out, the 2018 free agent class is full of big names including Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, who are only 26, and are just entering their prime. The Red Sox don’t need to rush anything. They’re in a good place where they stand right now.