Rumors are once again circling that the Boston Red Sox have been trying to move outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. this offseason for a power bat. First the Dodgers tried to cajole Boston to take on right fielder Yasiel Puig in a move that made little sense for the Red Sox; Puig, of course, is back in the news for being dropped as a client by the Wasserman Group for an unspecified behavioral reason. Even had Puig returned to his glory days of 2013 and 2014, it’s hard to imagine he’d have been a good culture fit in Boston.
A newer rumor makes more sense for both sides: The Cleveland Indians approached the Red Sox about dealing 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion to Boston for Bradley. Of course, “newer” is a relative term given that these discussions happened earlier in the offseason and are apparently dead for the moment, but it’s still worth asking:
Is that a trade that makes sense for Boston?
The ongoing story of the Boston offseason is the Red Sox’ pursuit of right fielder J.D. Martinez, the top bat in free agency and a guy with a market of two teams: Boston and the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he played out the back half of last season. It seems inevitable that some kind of deal will get done with the Red Sox eventually, but even assuming Martinez slots into the middle of the Boston lineup, the Red Sox still need another power bat. The only real move Boston has made to address the two traditional power positions in a major league lineup — first base and designated hitter — has been to bring back Mitch Moreland on a two-year deal. Moreland’s a decent enough player at $6.5 million a year, but he’s not a power hitter and the Red Sox lineup desperately needs some oomph.
Boston has had no incumbent DH since the retirement of David Ortiz after the 2016 season. Hanley Ramirez is penciled into the position heading into camp given that he can no longer play the field, but Ramirez has dramatically fallen off at the plate since turning 30; it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him designated for assignment by the Red Sox early in the upcoming season. That means Encarnacion, one of the league’s best power bats over the past five or six years, would stand to be a substantial upgrade in an area where Boston is sorely lacking.
Encarnacion, however, is a year older than Ramirez and declined last year, too — though he didn’t have as bad a season as casual fans might think. His atrocious start to the 2017 season was league-wide news, while his excellent back half of the year (.252/.381/.533 in 302 PA) garnered significantly less coverage. That’s something Boston fans would have to live with if the team dealt for him: Encarnacion has very slow starts to seasons, with a .756 career OPS in March and April against his .853 career OPS. Every year for the rest of his career, people are going to wonder if this is the time he won’t bounce back and put up a monster June. But he’s a much more attractive option, all told, than hoping against hope that Hanley’s stroke returns after three years of unimpressive hitting.
Paying Ramirez $22.75 million each of the next two years to ride the pine or play for someone else while taking on Encarnacion’s remaining $45 million (he has two more years on his deal near $20 million AAV and a team option for a third with a $5 million buyout) is no one’s idea of efficient.
Does an Encarnacion for Bradley Jr trade make sense?
Fanrag Sports | Feb 12