Free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez hasn’t decided where he wants to land in 2018, and his lingering indecision appears to be causing the Red Sox no shortage of anxiety. Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports that the club expects to make a serious run at the outfielder this offseason, to the point where they’re actively holding off on addressing other needs in order to ensure they have enough room to accommodate him on their payroll.
On one hand, they’re wise to wait. A previous report from USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale suggests that Martinez is seeking a seven-year, $210 million contract this winter, which doesn’t seem to have scared away the four or so teams who have already inquired about him over the last month. The 30-year-old slugger can justify his hefty asking price with some pretty impressive numbers, too: he batted .303/.376/.690 in 489 plate appearances for the Tigers and Diamondbacks last year and collected a career-best 45 home runs to boot.
While there’s no denying Martinez’s appeal, at least at the plate, the Red Sox’ wait-and-see attitude might also cost them depth at other positions. Mastrodonato points out that the club has yet to address their need for left-handed relief options with Tyler Thornburg’s status still up in the air, and should they miss out on Martinez altogether, their spending power could be limited to the few choice relievers still left on the market.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.