Dave Dombrowski and the Boston Red Sox got busy on Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings. The team kicked off the morning by sending Travis Shaw along with three prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for right handed relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg. Then came the big move of the day, as Chris Sale was traded to the Red Sox, with Yoan Moncada and three more prospects going to Chicago. The team wrapped things up by signing Mitch Moreland to a one year deal.
The big talk of the day surrounded Sale and how he makes the Sox one of the favorites in the American League. But one factor that has not been talked much about is the shift in the team’s third base picture. At the beginning of the day, the team had three potential options to man the hot corner in 2017: Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada.
But now Shaw finds himself in Milwaukee and Moncada is in Chicago. That leaves Sandoval, who is coming off an extremely disappointing start to his Red Sox career. He signed a five year, 95 million dollar deal with the team before the 2015 season. He went on to hit .245 and hit only 10 home runs as the fans saw him as a huge bust from the start of the season. Then in 2016, he played in all of three games, and went hitless in six at bats.
So needless to say, Red Sox fans are not exactly chomping at the bit to see him in the starting lineup. But with Shaw and Moncada now gone, he is the only real option at the moment. So that begs the question, who will be at third when the Red Sox open their 2017 season?
The first, and most obvious option is the man we just talked about, Pablo Sandoval. The team will be paying the 30 year old third baseman nearly 18 million dollars in 2017, and with his hefty contract and poor performance, the odds of Dombrowski trading him away are slim to none. So more likely than not, he will be on the team’s roster come opening day. Given the team has no obligation to add another third baseman, he is the current front runner given he lacks competition at the moment. But we know Dombrowski likes to make moves, so the odds of that lack of competition remaining the case could change in a blink.
A few weeks ago the Minnesota Twins non-tendered long time member Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe would represent a cheap, 30 year old option who the team could add for some extra veteran experience. He is coming off a season that saw him deal with oblique issues. At the end of the season, he played in 84 games where he hit .260 along with 12 home runs. In a full season, he has shown he is certainly capable of hitting 20 home runs. He represents an average option who the team could add on the cheap without parting with anymore prospects.
If the team decides the free agent market is the way to go, there is no better option at the hot corner than Justin Turner. There does not seem to be much of a market for Turner, with the Los Angeles Dodgers being the only club associated with him to this point. The 32 year old has proven to be a solid commodity the last few seasons with the Dodgers, as he has improved with a growing role in each of the past three years. In 2016 he hit 27 home runs, drove in 90 while hitting .275. If he comes at a discounted rate, it would not come as a surprise to see the Red Sox make a run at him.
The St. Louis Cardinals have depth in the infield, and that could mean Jhonny Peralta finds himself on the trading block. Peralta is owed 10 million dollars this season, and it is the last year on his deal. The 34 year old missed about half the season last year with injuries, as he only played in 84 games. When all was said and done, he hit eight homers to go along with a .260 average. He represents a very similar option to Plouffe, with the main difference being he will require a trade. But the price should not be very high, and if the Sox are not fans of Plouffe, he could certainly represent an alternate option.
We need to have one outside the box option, because Dombrowski likes to think outside the box. The Kansas City Royals are currently listening to offers for a ton of their players, as many of them enter their last year of team control. Reports say Wade Davis could be on his way to Chicago, while Oakland has interest in Jarrod Dyson. Another name entering the final year of his deal, third baseman Mike Moustakas. The 28 year old tore his ACL last season, and his value is certainly lower than it could be. That is certainly something Dombrowski is capable of taking advantage of. While he would cost the team some more prospects, he is the option with the most upside. The team could take advantage of the Kansas City sale, with Eduardo Rodriguez being a potential chip given the team’s now abundance of starters, to bring Moustakas to Boston.
So who do you think will be manning the hot corner for Boston in 2017? Tell us in the comments!