The Boston Red Sox and J.D. Martinez (after what felt like an eternity) have finally ended their stalemate and have come to an agreement. The Sox signed Martinez to a 5-year, $110 Million contract on Monday. The contract will reportedly pay Martinez $50 Million in the first two seasons.
Martinez will be paid $25 million in 2018 and 2019 before the first opt-out, $22 million in 2020 before the second opt-out, and $19 million in the last two years of his contract if he remains in Boston. The deal additionally contains an opt-out clause for the second and third year.
J.D. Martinez established himself as one of the top sluggers in 2017 when he hit a robust .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. J.D. also had a 1.066 OPS with .690 slugging percentage, a .376 on-base percentage, and a 4.1 WAR. Martinez, unfortunately, missed 33 games in the beginning of the season with a sprained right foot. Just imagine his numbers had he not been injured.
Boston went 93-69 in 2017 en route to winning the AL East division over the Yankees before meeting their ultimate demise in the ALDS against the World Series Champion Houston Astros. Despite the great season they put up, the Sox also finished the season with just 168 homers and a .407 team slugging percentage (second-lowest in the league).
Boston Red Sox finished last in the American League last year in home runs and after Giancarlo Stanton was traded to their division rival New York Yankees, the Sox needed a power bat more than ever. It had been a foregone conclusion that Martinez would be signed by Boston in an attempt to neutralize the power of Stanton and Judge, and the baseball world has been on the edge of their seats waiting to see where Martinez would land.
The New York Yankees have been the heavy favorites to win the AL East division ever since they acquired 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the pitiful Miami Marlins. With a team consisting of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Stanton, the Yankees are the favorites to steamroll the mighty AL East. Despite this, the inevitable J.D. Martinez signing will keep Boston afloat in the American League arms race.
J.D. Martinez has been a right fielder throughout his career, but will likely leave his glove at home this season. The Red Sox have an outfield that is patrolled by Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), and Andrew Benintendi (LF). The designated hitter role is also filled with Hanley Ramirez, but with the way he played in 2017, Martinez will have no problem taking the DH job (Ramirez will likely play first base). If the Red Sox were to play Martinez in right, they would likely trade Jackie Bradley Jr. and move Mookie Betts over to center field. This particular move, however, does not seem likely.
This means that the 2018 Boston Red Sox will look something like this…
RF Mookie Betts
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
LF Andrew Benintendi
DH J.D. Martinez
1B Hanley Ramirez/Mitch Moreland
3B Rafael Devers
SS Xander Bogaerts
C Christian Vazquez
The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly gained ground in the race for J.D. Martinez, but any deal that they proposed (if any) was clearly not enticing enough for Martinez to want to stay in Arizona. The Diamondbacks confirmed that they had moved on shortly after Martinez was signed by inking Jarrod Dyson to a 2-year $7.5 Million deal. Dyson hit an underwhelming .251/.324/.350 in 2017 but stole 28 bags while playing outstanding defense in center field.
The No. 1 free agent slugger on the market will now finally know which Spring Training camp to report to and the Boston Red Sox will finally have the much-needed power bat that they have been so desperately searching for. This deal has many baseball fans asking what took so long and it is impossible to blame them. After such a long and tedious offseason, the best free agent slugger will now play for who we knew he’d be with all along.
The only questions that remain are as follows.
Is Martinez enough to get the Sox over the hump?
Can the Red Sox overthrow their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees?
Is the “Evil Empire” too strong?
The answers to these questions…stay tuned at Doubleday Double Talk.