Three former Red Sox who could still help this year's team

Three former Red Sox who could still help this year's team originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Red Sox remain in the market for a right-handed hitter, although at this point it's fair to wonder if anyone's price would drop far enough for them to make an actual offer.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that they still want to balance their overly left-handed lineup. Three former Red Sox who remain free agents could fit the bill.

The first is J.D. Martinez, and it's mystifying how little interest he has drawn, or how badly the Red Sox wanted to rid themselves of his contract for his last three years in Boston.

All Martinez has done since 2018 is make five All-Star teams and reach 28 homers four times. He's coming off a .271-33-103 bounceback season with the Dodgers that proves there's still something in the tank at age 36. Had L.A. not plunked $700 million at the feet of Shohei Ohtani, Martinez may very well have stayed.

Martinez is a victim of baseball's perplexing trend to value versatility over production at DH, the one spot in the lineup devoted solely to offense. The Red Sox are likely to give Masataka Yoshida most of the at-bats there this year, even though he only hit 15 home runs last season and is no one's idea of a game changer.

Yoshida needs to DH because he's a liability in left field. If the Red Sox are going to be stuck with a DH who can't field, I'd take Martinez for two years and $25 million over Yoshida at five and $90 million, but the Red Sox aren't ready to declare Yoshida a sunk cost.

It's too bad, because Martinez would make more of an impact on the lineup, and he'd actually be a useful clubhouse presence/sounding board for the next generation of prospects, who could conceivably start arriving this summer.

Assuming Martinez is a no-go because of his defensive limitations, the Red Sox could also seek a reunion with Adam Duvall. He started like gangbusters last year before breaking his wrist while trying to make a sliding catch in center. Had the Red Sox built a more functional roster, Duvall would've been playing a corner outfield spot, where he's a Gold Glover, and might not have ever gotten hurt.

As it is, he still mashed 21 homers in only 92 games, and his ability to play all three outfield spots, plus a little first base, should conceivably make him attractive.

Our final option is Tommy Pham, who has officially reached the "one year, $5 million" portion of his career. Pham has played for seven teams over 10 years, maxing out as a down-ballot MVP candidate in St. Louis and a surprisingly productive everyday player in Tampa.

He has traditionally hit lefties better than righties, so he wouldn't be a full-time option, but it's also worth noting if there's even a spot for him, since Alex Cora's desire to give Ceddanne Rafaela a chance to win the starting center field job lessens the need for a right-handed hitting outfielder. If Rafaela makes the team, the Red Sox would already have more outfielders than spots for them.

Personally, I'd take the proven All-Star run producer in Martinez, but that's old-school thinking in baseball's new-school world.