Is It Time for the Red Sox to Sell J.D. Martinez Amid MLB Trade Rumors?

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2022

Is It Time for the Red Sox to Sell J.D. Martinez Amid MLB Trade Rumors?

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    Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox are spiraling ahead of next week's MLB trade deadline.

    Monday's victory over the Cleveland Guardians was only their sixth in 21 times in July. The Sox enter Tuesday night with a staggering minus-70 run differential for the month.

    That's why the potential for Boston to become a seller "has become increasingly realistic," per ESPN's Jeff Passan. It's also why Buster Olney of the same media outlet reported that designated hitter (and impending free agent) J.D. Martinez "is out in the trade market."

    So, is Boston about to plunge into a reset and outfit other contenders with plug-and-play contributors? Or might the Red Sox, which remain within striking distance of a wild-card spot, opt to play things out in hopes that better luck on the injury front might help them turn things around?

How Much Selling Are We Talking About?

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Should Boston embrace the seller's mentality, it could be a busy deadline for the Sox.

    Assuming Martinez's impending free agency is what could put him on the chopping block, a number of other proven performers could be in the same boat. Pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill are all on expiring deals. So, too, are catcher Christian Vazquez, utility man Enrique Hernandez and reliever Matt Strahm.

    Of course, an even more prominent player should probably be added to that group. While Xander Bogaerts isn't technically on an expiring contract, he might as well be given the high likelihood he will opt out of the remaining three years on his deal after this season. So, could a Bogaerts deal be in the works? In a word: No. Or probably not, at least.

    "Rival executives anticipate that even if Boston unloads a half-dozen players, Bogaerts, the star 29-year-old shortstop, won't be among them, even though he's set to hit free agency this winter," Passan reported. "Should Boston make Bogaerts available, however, he would be the best player out there, non-Soto division, and potentially upend the market days before the deadline."

    Should things continue trending the wrong way before the deadline, it seems possible the Red Sox would let Bogaerts go for the right return if he's no longer part of their plans. They seemingly already signed his replacement in Trevor Story, who landed in Beantown by way of a six-year, $140 million pact in March, though it's possible the budget could allow for both middle infielders going forward.

Is Standing Pat—or Even Buying—an Option?

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    As rough as July has been, Boston isn't buried in the standings.

    The fact that the Red Sox remain within striking distance of a wild-card spot may not sound like much for a club that typically carries championship expectations, but it's important. That's a ticket to the big dance, and anything can happen come playoff time.

    This team is talented. Very much so. Before free-falling in July, it flew to a 20-6 mark in June. Injuries have been an issue, but they don't have to be a permanent problem. Grant this group a clean bill of health, and you're looking at a loaded lineup featuring the likes of Martinez, Bogaerts, Story, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo plus a rotation with Eovaldi, Chris Sale and James Paxton.

    Should the Sox stand pat or look to add to their collection, they wouldn't be doing it on a whim. This group could make real noise if it gets the chance.

What's the Best Option?

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    As much as you'd like to keep optimism alive, that isn't always what's best for the bottom line.

    The fact that the Red Sox have a talented roster should keep the front office from entertaining any kind of fire sale, and if they can sniff out a bargain, that could make sense. However, selective selling is an option worth exploring, particularly for players Boston isn't necessarily tied to going forward.

    "The Red Sox, as we get to the deadline, could be both buyers and sellers," ESPN's Buster Olney told SportsCenter (h/t Hayden Bird of Boston.com).

    If Boston heats up (and heals up) before the deadline, then it might lean toward the buying side of that split. It seems more likely, though, that the Red Sox would get the most mileage out of this deadline by shipping out some non-keepers for players or prospects with a better shot of sticking around beyond this season.

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