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American League

Better Late Than Never: Martinez Is Whom Boston Needed

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On August 21, 2006, JD Martinez spent his 19th birthday at Fenway Park watching North America’s greatest sports rivalry. His sister Mayra’s present to him was seats at the game that she got from then-Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, whose family she worked with. 12 years later, Martinez finds himself at the Fens once again, but this time he’ll be on the field.

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski officially introduced right fielder/designated hitter Martinez this morning at Boston’s Spring Training compound in Fort Myers, Florida, one week after the now-30-year-old agreed to a five-year, $110 million contract. Funny enough, Martinez’ new manager was Boston’s starting shortstop that day in 2006, Alex Cora.

“Football has Monday night; they say Fenway is like Monday Night Football every night,” said Martinez at the introductory presser. “To play in front of fans this passionate and who love the game as much as I do is exciting.”

Though widely expected from fans and media alike, it seemed at points like an agreement would never be reached. Both sides made the MLB universe sweat it out through rampant negotiations that lasted almost all winter, but it worked out it in the end. It’s a deal the Red Sox needed to make and passing Martinez up would have been a gargantuan mistake.

A drastic decrease in home run output in 2017 made it evident that the Red Sox needed a new big bat. Arch rival New York acquiring reigning home run king Giancarlo Stanton from Miami all but forced Dombrowski’s hand, and though it took until after Spring Training began, he did not disappoint and proved that the Red Sox aren’t messing around either.

Splitting 2017 between Detroit and Arizona, Martinez is coming off the finest season of his career, finishing third in the MLB behind Stanton and Aaron Judge with 45 homers alongside a .303 AVG, 104 RBI and a 1.066 OPS. Reestablishing himself as an elite threat after an elbow injury derailed him in 2016, Martinez is tasked with bringing Boston’s trademark power back to life after it went MIA in the team’s first season without David Ortiz in 14 years.

The stellar pitching of Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz was enough to make up for the outage, even with David Price being lost for more than half the season and Rick Porcello suffering from the proverbial Cy Young hangover. However, the Red Sox can’t afford to rely on pitching alone now that the only team they will contend for the AL East with has Stanton, Judge and Gary Sanchez, who hit a combined 137 homers in 2017, in one lineup. After swatting 45 of his own between the Tigers and D-Backs, Martinez should have no issue fitting in in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway.

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Martinez was all smiles on Monday as he finally got to put on his Red Sox jersey. (USA Today)

The newest Red Sock isn’t coming to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark to lead the MLB in homers, but rather to put some badly needed oomph back into the Red Sox lineup, which should take pressure off key players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts and youngbloods Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers.

Well-rounded production from an entire team is never a bad thing and it’s what Boston relied on last season, but it’s not bad either to have a big bat to lean on when the game is on the line. For 14 years that guy for Boston was Big Papi, and the team hopes the man known as Julio Daniel can help fill that void to allow other players a chance to bounce back.

The signing does create a bit of a logjam for rookie manager Cora. Rather than pursue Eric Hosmer, Boston resigned 1B Mitch Moreland for two years. But, according to Boston’s MLB.com reporter Ian Browne, Hanley Ramirez will be Boston’s primary first baseman this season after spending 2017 at DH. If this is true, then Moreland’s resigning is something of a head-scratcher. Why resign the lefty to a two-year, $13 million deal  if the plan was to make Hanley the guy all along?

However, sending Hanley back to the infield is a wise move for Cora. Ramirez performed very well at first base in 2016, his debut year at the position,  playing solid defense while smacking 30 homers and 111 RBI. Moving Ramirez back to first gives him the opportunity to rediscover that magic after shoulder injuries plagued him last year, limiting him to 62 RBI. And, more importantly, it will allow Martinez to be the sole DH, which is the only place he fits right now.

The odds of the team sending Martinez to his natural right field aren’t high at all. Pesky’s corner of the outfield at Fenway is going to be owned by Mookie for a long time to come and Boston isn’t likely to destruct the other two-thirds of its own version of the Killer B’s to make room. Betts, 2017 Rookie of the Year runner-up Benintendi and defensive wizard Jackie Bradley Jr. combine to form one of baseball’s best outfields, there’s simply no room for Martinez there.

There’s a chance that Martinez’ numbers could drop a bit as he adjusts to being a full time DH, but his impact potential is still incredibly high. He gives the Red Sox another proven bat that can hit for both power and contact and will fit nicely in the order around Bogaerts and Betts. For a team that already has one of baseball’s best rotations (Sale, Price, Pomeranz, Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez), the addition of Martinez makes the sky the limit in Beantown.

Stanton to the Yankees may have been this offseason’s biggest move, but Martinez’ signing proves that Boston is not intent on being overshadowed by its storied foes. After The Rivalry lay dormant for the better part of 10 years, Yankees- Red Sox is guaranteed to be the game to watch every time these teams meet this season.

American League

2019 Trade Deadline Highlights

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In a shocking, last-minute deal, Zack Greinke has a new home (CBS Sports).

This year’s Trade Deadline in the MLB wasn’t as boisterous as previous seasons and might rank as one of the less-exciting ones in history. There was still a good number of high-profile moves, however, and a few big names went on to new homes. Here’s a look at the more notable acquisitions of July 31, 2019 and how they will impact the teams that got the big returns.

Blue Jays trade RHP Marcus Stroman to Mets in exchange for RHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson

The move that unofficially kicked off trading season was a bit of a head scratcher. It had long been rumored that Toronto was shopping ace Marcus Stroman, but the team he ended up with isn’t exactly a contender. The Mets are currently four games under .500 and may not be vying for the postseason in 2019. The move is likely another part of the Mets rebuilding process, and since Noah Syndergaard stayed put, New York may have a formidable rotation next season.

Indians acquire LHP Scott Moss, OF Yasiel Puig from Reds and OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and IF Victor Nova from Padres, Padres acquire OF Taylor Trammell from Reds, Indians acquire Reds acquire RHP Trevor Bauer from Indians

The literal biggest trade of the day was a this three-team blockbuster. Trevor Bauer firing the ball over the center field wall on Sunday after he was pulled in the fifth inning ended up being the last pitch he threw in an Indians uniform. A day later the Tribe rid itself of his petulance and pulled off a massive trade with intrastate rival Cincinnati as well as San Diego that saw Bauer go to the Reds and Reds top prospect Taylor Tramell go to the Friars. Cleveland received a host of players from both teams, most namely Yasiel Puig, who is ironically also known as a prima donna.

Though Bauer is undeniably talented when he keeps his act together and bolsters the Reds attempts to trend upward, San Diego may have won the trade with Tramell, MLB’s no. 30 overall prospect.

Rays acquire 1B Jesus Aguilar from Brewers in exchange for RHP Jacob Faria

Milwaukee was certainly brewing before the Deadline and made a commendable effort to improve its pitching. GM David Stearns’ most notable move was a straight swap with the Rays that brought back righty Jacob Faria in exchange for power hitting 1B Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar is having a down year but has proven many times that he can be deadly. He gives the Rays the big bat they’ve been seeking in their hunt for a Wild Card berth.

It’s a good move for both sides because it clears Milwaukee’s infield logjam and gives the team another quality starter. Faria never quite broke out in Tampa Bay but a change of scenery always has potential to pay dividends. After having already gotten Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh on Monday, the Brewers made another move and got Drew Pomeranz from San Fransisco later on Wednesday. Though none of the returns are big name guys, Milwaukee is serious about making another run after coming so close last year.

Cubs acquire OF Nicholas Castellanos from Tigers in exchange for RHP Alex Lange and RHP Paul Richan.

The Cubs made their chances of taking the NL Central back even better with this move. Nicholas Castellanos has been one of the MLB’s more underrated players in recent years, largely because he was on the Tigers after the team’s glory days of the early 2010s ended. Adding him to a lineup that already includes Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez gives the Cubbies even more firepower, especially given Castellanos success vs. lefty pitchers. It’s also a great move for him personally as he gets to join a contending team at last. The Cubs are vying to appear in the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, and their chances look pretty good.

Astros acquire RHP Zack Greinke from Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Corbin Martin, RHP JB Bukauskas, IF Josh Rojas and IF Seth Beer

If Houston was scary good before this trade, they’re terrifyingly good now. The Astros just added Zack Greinke to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in a last-minute deal that wasn’t announced until after the deadline officially passed. Arizona received a package of four minor leaguers in return as the team is now officially in the rebuilding process.

Like Verlander, Greinke is in the second half of his thirties but has not declined at all and owned a 10-4 record with a 2.90 on a sub-par Diamondbacks team at the time of his departure. The six-time All-Star’s presence gives Houston the best rotation in baseball by far and should get the knees of any upcoming opponent knocking. The MLB said it best on Instagram today, “Facing Houston? You have a problem.”

Notable non-moves:

  • After being heavily rumored as top targets, Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard and Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner are still members of their longtime teams.
  • The Boston Red Sox, whose bullpen has blown 18 saves, made no moves to improve its relief core, to the amazement of the team’s fanbase.
  • The New York Yankees were thought to be Syndergaard’s top suitor, but the team did not acquire any starting pitching to aid Aaron Boone’s struggling rotation.

What was the biggest move of the deadline this year? Be sure to let us know on Twitter @HomeRunDaily.

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American League

Athletics Acquire Tanner Roark

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Tanner Roark

The Oakland Athletics have acquired right hander Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder Jamerson Hannah will be heading to Cincinnati, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, the Reds will pick up $2.1 million of Roark’s remaining salary.

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American League

Astros Acquire Martin Maldonado

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Martin Maldonado

The Houston Astros have acquired veteran catcher Martin Maldonado from the Chicago Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder/second baseman Tony Kemp will be heading to the Cubs, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

Maldonado has posted a .217/.285/.349 slash line this season.

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