Sport: Red Sox reportedly listening to offers for J.D. Martinez

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As the Red Sox continue to flounder through the month of July, there are increasing levels of speculation that Boston could sell off some short-term veterans, even if they continue to opportunistically look to add longer-term pieces who’ll help in 2023 and beyond. To that end, ESPN’s Buster Olney said on today’s Baseball Tonight podcast that designated hitter J.D. Martinez “is out in the trade market.” Boston was recently swept by the division-rival Blue Jays, dropping them to 17 games back in the AL East and three back in the Wild Card chase.

Jul 18, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; American League designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) of the Boston Red Sox during batting practice at Dodger Stadium. © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Jul 18, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; American League designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) of the Boston Red Sox during batting practice at Dodger Stadium.

The 34-year-old Martinez would immediately become one of the best bets on the market if the Red Sox indeed do intend to trade him within the next week. Fresh off his fifth career All-Star appearance, Martinez remains a standout bat, hitting .302/.368/.481 with nine homers on the season. He may not be the 45-homer threat he was at his 2017-18 peak, but Martinez’s 8.7 percent walk rate and 23.6 percent strikeout rate are both right in line with his career levels, and he’s been 36 percent better than league-average at the plate by measure of wRC+.

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Martinez is in the final season of a frontloaded five-year, $110M contract that calls for a $19.375M salary for the current season. He’s still owed about $7.55M of that salary between now and season’s end, as of this writing, but for a hitter of his caliber it’s a generally reasonable rate of pay.

The extent to which the Red Sox are attempting to move Martinez isn’t yet known. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom typically takes an open-minded approach to the trade deadline and offseason alike, so it’s certainly feasible that he’s simply entertaining offers from other clubs. At the same time, if the Sox have determined that they don’t want to make a qualifying offer to Martinez at what will likely be a comparable rate to his current salary, they could more aggressively contact other clubs and try to initiate negotiations themselves.

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Making Martinez available would obviously bring about further questions regarding the Red Sox’s roster. If they’re willing to move Martinez, it stands to reason that other clubs would inquire about the team’s other slate of pending free agents, at the very least. Nathan Eovaldi would quickly become the top name on the rental market for starting pitchers, and the Red Sox also have catcher Christian Vazquez, starters Michael Wacha and Rich Hill, utilityman Enrique Hernandez and reliever Matt Strahm set to reach free agency this winter.

Wacha, Hill, Strahm and Hernandez are all on the injured list at the moment, but all four are progressing toward returns (Twitter link via MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo). Hill is slated for a rehab assignment beginning tomorrow, while Wacha recently threw a simulated game. Strahm is only on the IL due to a wrist contusion (the All-Star break likely contributed to the factor to place him on the IL at all). Hernandez will be swinging a bat by the end of the week.

Red Sox reportedly not 'motivated to deal Nathan Eovaldi'

  Red Sox reportedly not 'motivated to deal Nathan Eovaldi' The Sox seem to be “listening on veterans” in general, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman tweets. © Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. Both Martinez and Vazquez are free agents after the year, so it would seem natural that the Red Sox would first look to move these shorter-term players with the deadline looming. Other pending free agents include Jackie Bradley Jr.

Of course, those players may not be considered quite as “easy” to replace as Martinez. While there’s no Martinez-level bat readily available to take his place, the Sox do have top prospect Triston Casas in Triple-A. Bobby Dalbec is playing third base right now with Rafael Devers on the injured list but could get a look at DH — or the Sox could simply use the designated hitter slot as a means of rotation their regulars and keeping them fresh down the stretch.

While a brief rental of a designated hitter might not generally be expected to produce a significant return, it at least bears mentioning that the Twins were able to pry minor league right-handers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman from the Rays in last summer’s Nelson Cruz trade. Ryan, then an upper-level starter who’d recently pitched for Team USA in the Olympics, quickly found his way to the big leagues and has been Minnesota’s best starter since last September’s debut. That’ll likely be seen as the gold standard for rental trades of this nature for some time, however, and it’s not necessarily reasonable to expect the Red Sox — or any team — to pull off a return of that quality in exchange for a rental bat.

Red Sox rumors: 3 best trade destinations for J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Vazquez

  Red Sox rumors: 3 best trade destinations for J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Vazquez The Red Sox seem to be ready to sell, These 3 players are most likely to go It appears the Red Sox are starting to come to their senses and realize that this current team is not playoff-caliber. A great June in which they went 20-6 inflated their values, but they came scorching back down to Earth with a 7-19 record in July so far. During July, they've been outscored by an embarrassing amount, 169 to 97 runs. In that time frame, they have lost by over seven runs six times. In fact, aside from June, the team has gone 30-46 in April, May, and July combined. No wonder so many Red Sox rumors are being spread.

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