After a very long offseason, the Red Sox have finally got their guy. There were rumors, there was staring contests, there was a little drama, but at long last, JD Martinez found the team best fit for him with the Red Sox. The two sides reportedly came to terms on a five-year deal worth $110 million dollars this evening. As part of the deal, Martinez will have the option to opt out two seasons in after making $50 million. At 30 years old, it’s a bit strange that took a hitter with the abilities Martinez has to find a new home, but the Red Sox should be thrilled with the results. President of Baseball Ops. Dave Dombrowski had himself a strong offseason, and he capped it off by getting his guy for a reasonable price. Lest we forget, Dombrowski helped put Martinez on the map when both were employed by the Detroit Tigers. The $110 million dollar man was once but a fringe prospect with the Houston Astros to start his professional career, and was straight up released from the team in March of 2014. In that same month, the Tigers signed Martinez to a minor league deal and he made his big league debut for the club on April 21st. Since that day, the Miami native has transformed himself into one of the better hitters in baseball. In 520 games with both the Tigers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Martinez has slashed .300/.362/.574 to go along with 128 home runs and has averaged 3.8 WAR per season.
Despite all the offensive struggles the Red Sox had as a team last season, they still finished tenth in runs scored. Adding Martinez to this lineup should only boost these numbers. Imagining Martinez in the same lineup as Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Rafael Devers has been something I had been doing recently, but now it’s going to be a reality. This was the best move the Red Sox could make to counter the Yankees acquiring Giancarlo Stanton. It took two months, but these teams are going to be closer in the standings than people think. Over at FanGraphs.com, they have the Red Sox projected to finish five games better than the Yankees in 2018, and that was before the Martinez signing. Unlike last season, the Red Sox and Yankees will play each other more later in the season, and there will be a three-game series at Fenway to close out the season. Those games are way down the road, but they are clearly going to be vital to the AL East crown.
Since the Red Sox need to make room on the 40-man roster, expect a corresponding roster move to be made in the coming days. As it currently stands, this Martinez contract puts the Red Sox roughly $2 million dollars above the luxury tax threshold of $237 million. If they want to stay under that number, which I’m 99% sure they do, something will have to be done to trim this year’s salary.