A report out of Boston on Monday should give new hope to Red Sox fans still disheartened by the New York Yankees’ acquisition of former Miami Marlins’ home run king Giancarlo Stanton in a deal also officially announced on Monday. Super-agent Scott Boras, the Boston Globe reports, is looking to land not just one but both of his two top power-hitting clients in Boston this offseason.
Those two clients are Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder J.D. Martinez. While neither has the home run power of Stanton, who clobbered 59 last season — the highest total in the Major Leagues since Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard blasted 58 in 2006 — Martinez’ total of 45 placed him third overall in MLB behind Stanton and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (52).
But even Hosmer’s 25 home runs in 2017 were more than any hitter on the power-starved Red Sox, who were led by right fielder Mookie Betts and his 24 round-trippers. Along with Betts, only Boston’s first baseman Mitch Moreland (22) and rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi (20) reached the 20-home run mark for the Red Sox.
In fact, the Red Sox — despite winning 93 games and taking the American League East pennant for the second consecutive year, the first time the Red Sox won back-to-back division titles since the start of divisional play in 1969 — hit only 168 home runs as a team in 2017. That left them last in the AL and 26th out of the 30 MLB teams.
But according to Globe Red Sox correspondent Nick Cafardo, Boras “would love” to see both Hosmer and Martinez sign with Boston, and the current baseball Winter Meetings in Florida may be where the signings happen.
“The Red Sox and Boras have already engaged in talks concerning both Hosmer and Martinez,” Cafardo wrote. “They’re likely to continue at the meetings now that the situation has changed with the Yankees acquiring Stanton. Boras also likes to discuss his big-ticket items directly with ownership.”
Martinez in his seven-year career divided between the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers before he was traded mid-season to Arizona last season, averaged one home run every 18.55 plate appearances, a rate only somewhat less impressive than Stanton’s 15.43 plate appearances per home run over an eight-year career, all spent in Miami.
While Hosmer’s home run rate at 35.6 is only about half as good as Martinez, an internal statistical study performed by the Royals — the team that drafted him third overall in 2008 — the 28-year-old Florida native is likely to push his home run production past the 40 mark by playing half of his games in Boston’s Fenway Park, according to Cafardo.
But Hosmer, according to Boston Herald baseball columnist Michael Silverman, provides another quality lacking on the 2017 Red Sox squad — leadership. Martinez also brings an “intangible” positive quality, Silverman wrote on Sunday.
“Everyone’s familiar with the baseball bona fides of Martinez and Hosmer, but equally important is that they each come with a reputation for leadership and maturity that the current Red Sox clubhouse needs in spades,” Silverman wrote. “It’s no secret the Red Sox need a culture change in their clubhouse. Hiring Alex Cora (as manager) was the correct start to that process, but that’s not going to be the end of it. The roster needs new personalities, players who welcome the spotlight rather than curdle from it.”
The San Diego Padres also met with Hosmer last week, but with Will Myers already at first base on a San Diego team that won just 71 games in 2017 and is not expected to improve that total by much in 2018, the Red Sox appear to be a more attractive destination for the veteran, who won a World Series with the Royals in 2015.