Last year, the Baltimore Orioles were clearly the best team in the AL East, and if the Boston Red Sox want to get back to the playoffs in 2015, they need to fill one serious hole: the third base position.
After Will Middlebrooks went down early in the year, the Sox tried seven different guys at the hot corner. Defense wasn’t an issue, but ESPN reports that Boston’s platoon of third basemen was the worst offensive unit in the league: 29th in on-base percentage, 30th in batting average and 30th in slugging percentage. That’s not going to get it done.
Sox general manager Ben Cherington is willing to make a big splash in the free agent market in hopes of filling the team’s biggest need, and he currently has his eyes set on Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez, the Boston Globe reports.
Sandoval — who just won his third World Series ring with the San Francisco Giants — turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Giants earlier this month. The switch hitter would afford Boston increased flexibility in the middle of its lineup and is a more than capable defender, despite putting on significant weight in the past few years. Additionally, Sandoval could supplement an aging David Ortiz as designated hitter.
Ramirez also just turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer, and his unique combination of average and power make him the consensus best hitter in the 2014 free agent pool. While he is a shortstop by trade, Ramirez has spent time at third with both the Dodgers and Marlins. Perhaps most importantly, Ramirez has an existing relationship with Boston. The Red Sox first signed the Dominican when he was 16, and Ramirez made his MLB debut with Boston before it traded him to the Marlins in 2005.