(Source) Top free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez and the Boston Red Sox have been engaged in a staredown/stalemate for weeks. And judging by Martinez’s commitment to the cause, it may go on quite awhile longer.
Miami acquaintances of Martinez say he is willing to “hold out,” certainly into spring training, for what he believes should be his market value. The Red Sox have offered Martinez a five-year deal, and sources suggest at least one other has, too.
The Diamondbacks still have Martinez atop their list as well, and while a D-backs person suggested he didn’t believe an official five-year offer was extended, it’s hard to imagine them still being in it for less, and they are in it.
In any case, word coming out of Miami is that Martinez, 30, believes it appropriate that he get a six-year deal. It isn’t known what kind of total dollars the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and maybe others are offering (the Jays also have been showing interest and met with Martinez at the Winter Meetings), but sources suggest that Martinez is seeking $30 million-plus annually — $200 million if he can get it but at least $180 million, following his boffo season, first in Detroit and then Arizona.
The interested teams are believed offering somewhere in the $120 million to $150 million range (yes, that’s a big range, but the offers to this point are unknown). So it’s believed he’s in the neighborhood of around $50 million short of the asking price at present. That sounds like a lot.
But Martinez’s willingness to wait is bolstered by the reality that there are multiple teams involved (Arizona’s involvement may have been underplayed to this point) at somewhat similar levels, and also the fact that there is no one comparable – at least when it comes to 2017 performance. Jay Bruce and Carlos Gonzalez have been productive offensive performers, but Martinez’s 2017 season was extraordinary while Bruce’s was just very good and CarGo’s uncharacteristically unproductive (at least until the final several weeks).
While Boston has been seen as the favorite, word is Martinez prefers to play the outfield rather than DH, which is one edge the D-backs may have, and they’ve hired his personal hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc, as the team’s hitting strategist.
Martinez’s asking price is based on his monster season, in which he became the first player to hit 45 home runs in fewer than 120 games (he played 119) and posted a slugging percentage at .690 overall — .741 in Arizona — that would have been the highest in a season since Barry Bonds had Martinez had a few more plate appearances to qualify.
Some have seen Justin Upton as a comp, and he received a very nice $132.75 million, six-year deal with the Tigers two winters ago. His agent, Scott Boras, met at one point with D-backs owner Ken Kendrick, but as far as Boston goes, so far GM Dave Dombrowski has been handling things, and Dombrowski appears to be drawing the line at five years.
So, this is where things stand right now. JD Martinez has offers on the table, but none of them appear to have the length he and his agent looking for. I wrote a little bit about this yesterday, about how teams are moving away from committing long-term deals to players demanding a lot of money. JD Martinez is a prime example of this. Despite all the talent and numbers he has put up, no one wants to sign him to deal that exceeds five years in length. With that in mind, Martinez is reportedly willing to hold out until March to sign a deal.
What does that mean for the Red Sox? Well, I think it means one of two things. The first being that it is now time to move away from JD Martinez and start looking at other options. Or, it could mean that if Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox are desperate enough for a power bat, it’s time to offer Martinez a contract six-plus years in length. I doubt this would happen though. Offering one player up to $180 million dollars is a risky investment, and it would be hard to move that contract if something happened down the line.
If Dave Dombrowski does decide to stop pursuing a deal with Martinez, his other options are not as formidable. There are plenty of guys who hit for power regularly, like Jose Bautista nad Curtis Granderson, but I can’t see them taking on an everyday role with any club. Personally, I like Carlos Gonzalez. This has nothing to with numbers, because I know they have been declining, but I have always respected Gonzalez as a player. Todd Frazier is another player who comes to mind who will more than likely play in 2018 on a one-year deal. In all honesty, none of this could be needed if Hanley Ramirez performs the way he did in 2016. Guys like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts also have room to improve their power numbers. A fresh start with a new manager could energize this team enough to where they look like they can compete with the New York Yankees.
JD Martinez or not, I still believe this team can put up 90+ wins. It would be nice to have him in the lineup but if he’s playing hard to get, move on.