Photo Credit: David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports
Hot starts by key Red Sox players could leave the front office with some difficult decisions down the road.
It’s been fun, right? The early season has been filled with late game comebacks, extra inning heroics, dominant starting pitching, and multiple different heroes. Most importantly, the Red Sox are 8-1.
The 2018 version of the Boston Red Sox just feels different than the team that won the AL East in 2017. Not much has changed, but the addition of J.D. Martinez in the middle of the lineup seems to have sparked the rest of the offense, even if JD hasn’t provided much consistency yet.
The Red Sox are excited about full seasons from Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez, as they’ve provided stability in the early part of this season. Additionally, new manager Alex Cora, seems to be pushing all of the right buttons.
However, three players will allow for interesting story lines down the road.
Hanley’s Vesting Option:
Hanley Ramirez looks healthy and he seems to want to take on a leadership role for the first time since his arrival in Boston.
He’s currently hitting .324 with an .818 OPS and 8 RBI through nine games, and his walk-off RBI in the season’s first home game has been the defining moment for the “never count us out” label that has stuck to this team in the season’s first few weeks. Ramirez’s 4 year / $88M deal was looked at as an albatross coming into the season, but early season production has silenced any criticism.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 5, 2018
A vesting option at 497 plate appearances will earn him a guaranteed $22.75M for 2019 – money that the front office surely had no intention of paying when signing JD Martinez to be the primary DH and re-signing Mitch Moreland.
Despite the money, Cora has penciled Hanley into the lineup at first base every game to start the season, and he’s played exceptional defense to go along with the hot bat.
If he continues to play at a high level and he stays healthy, he’ll be a part of this team in 2019.
Price Opt Out Clause:
David Price experienced a sub-par 2016 and injury plagued 2017, but is looking like the ace pitcher the Red Sox invested in through his first two starts this season.
Price’s contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2018 season, but after the first two seasons in Boston it seemed impossible that he’d opt out of $30M+ per season through 2022.
The fans and media have been less than warm to Price during his time in Boston, which means he may consider moving on if he’s able to rebuild his stock. If he chooses to opt out, the front office isn’t likely to pursue him, regardless of the type of season he has in 2018.
Despite any chance of leaving, the Red Sox are thrilled to see the old David Price.
Xander Bogaerts has been the early season MVP for the Red Sox. He’s batting .368 with a 1.111 OPS, 2HR, 9RBI and a league leading 7 doubles. The torrid start didn’t come without consequences as he was recently placed on the 10 Day DL.
Bogaerts is slated to hit free agency for the first time after the 2019 season. He was once considered to be the premier shortstop prospect, but has been surpassed by the likes of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa.
His name was mentioned in off-season trade rumors involving Giancarlo Stanton and Manny Machado, but a resurgent season could force Dombrowski & Co. to lock up the X-man as a primary piece of the core moving forward.
The red-hot start has been a welcomed sight, but the Red Sox have a real test coming up.
Beat the Yankees!