Bradford: The Red Sox' Giancarlo Stanton problem

Rob Bradford
December 10, 2017 - 9:36 am

USA Today Sports

Boy, the Red Sox could sure use Addison Reed right about now.

The presence of the reliever wouldn't seem to be a priority, but in this world where Giancarlo Stanton is being fitted for pinstripes every bit counts. And the fact that Reed -- who will sign somewhere in the coming weeks to serve as some team's closer -- has dominated Stanton (0-for-8, 6 strikeouts) would have represented a slight sliver of optimism in these times of desperation.

Oh well.

The reality is that even if Reed, or any other pitchers with great success against the reigning National League MVP, came to the Red Sox, the wounds from this news wouldn't be any less painful for Dave Dombrowski's team. There is no way around it, this one hurt. And not necessarily just in the fashion that many are identifying.

The Yankees are now the most talented team in the American League. That is indisputable. In this day and age of prioritizing the home run, this is a team that will do that better than anyone else. Getting through the torture chamber of Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez is simply a dynamic that doesn't exist anywhere else in baseball. For example, in the Red Sox' 11 losses to the Yankees last season, they were out-homered, 19-3.

And it wasn't just the Yankees who utilized their power advantange over the Red Sox. Remember what the Astros did? Sure, go ahead, string together your four singles. They will drop a three-run blast on you at some point, throwing all that game-planning, aggressiveness and scouting reports out the window. In Red Sox losses, they hit 45 homers, to their opponents' 114. Stanton is now primed to expand that chasm.

Perhaps the Red Sox counter with the signing of J.D. Martinez. A case could certainly be made that the outfielder's power might match what Stanton is bringing to the Bronx. Fair. But that doesn't fix some of the other issues that this Yankees blockbuster has surfaced.

One of the pertinent questions coming off this deal was in regards to why Stanton wouldn't be open to a trade to the Red Sox. Certainly, if Boston was on his list of preferred destinations -- joining the Dodgers, Astros, Cubs and Yankees -- the Sox could have easily matched what ended up being the Marlins' asking price. Maybe John Henry wasn't comfortable dishing out the $265 million the Yanks are committing to. Perhaps the Red Sox didn't have the kind of contract to offer that would have made the financial piece work, as was with the case of Starlin Castro.

Really, none of that mattered.

Stanton didn't want to make Boston his new home. But why? All we can go by is the common thread that Houston, Chicago, and New York represented. (The Dodgers are his hometown team, so it's not apples to apples.) It wasn't location. It wasn't tax laws. The prospects of winning without the chaos? Bingo. The Red Sox' players love their teammates, and insist 2017 was a great clubhouse. But players talk. Perceptions are formed. "Come to our team. We have a great bunch of guys and a tight team ... despite the media landscape." Or how about the resurfacing of an old conversation involving race thanks to the Adam Jones drama from 2017? Reality or not, players talk. That's the true reality.

Just a guess, but Stanton probably wasn't willing to hear the word "despite" in any sales pitch.

We're about to find out if this sort of uneasiness stretches beyond Stanton. Perhaps the Red Sox will simply once again significantly out-bid their competition in the free agent market, like they did with David Price. Or maybe there are enough other places to win and make money that it won't be deemed worth it.

And Stanton's landing spot certainly didn't make things easier for the Red Sox in the free agent market, either. None of the middle-of-the-order candidates -- Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana, Mike Moustakas or Martinez -- were going to be linked to the Yankees. That means teams like the Giants and Cardinals, who had already displayed a willingness to pay the financial price when pursuing Stanton, are probably going to drive the price way up.

Finally, there is the uncomfortable reminder for the Red Sox when it comes to their future compared to the Yankees.

As it currently stands, the Yankees could head into the 2020 season secure in the knowledge that they had virtually the entire foundation of this current juggernaut under control. Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Greg Bird, Jordan Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman are committed long-term, with some of the game's best prospects (Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier) already ready to step in whenever needed.

The Red Sox? Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz are up after this season. Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts will be eligible for free agency following 2019, with Mookie Betts potentially getting his turn at the open market the year after. And if David Price is the pitcher he was at the end of 2017, there's the chance he will opt-out, forcing to Dombrowski to find yet another foundation piece. But the biggest difference between the two situations is that the Red Sox' farm system really isn't offering the ray of hope New York can deliver, either in actual replacements or trade chips to find those replacements.

It's not as if the Red Sox can't win. Stanton makes it more difficult, no doubt. But if the Red Sox potential superstars actually become real, live superstars, Hanley Ramirez' optimism actually leads to on-field results, and they do find that one big bat, this is a postseason team. 

Still, the big trade should have served as a wake-up call. There's a lot of work for the Red Sox to do. More than perhaps most people realized before Saturday morning rolled around.


Bradfo Sho, Ep. 54: Holy crap, Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee!

In a special emergency Bradfo Sho, Rob Bradford is joined by Kerosene Ken Laird to discuss the Yankees acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. The two dive into what this might mean for the Red Sox, and the insanity that is Stanton in the middle of New York's lineup.

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