Former Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez agrees to one-year, $10 million deal with Dodgers, per report

Red Sox free agent J.D. Martinez has agreed to a one-year contract with the Dodgers, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reports that Martinez will receive $10 million in 2023.

Martinez, 35, spent the last five seasons with the Red Sox after originally signing a five-year, $110 million deal with Boston in February 2018. Then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wanted to inject some life into a lineup that scored the sixth-most runs in the American League in 2017 and he got exactly that in Martinez, who he already knew from his days with the Tigers.

In his debut season with the Sox, Martinez made a strong first impression by batting .330/.402/.629 with 37 doubles, two triples, 43 home runs, a league-leading 130 RBIs, 111 runs scored, six stolen bases, 69 walks, and 146 strikeouts over 150 games (649 plate appearances). He played a key role in helping Boston cap off a historic campaign with a World Series title and became the first player to ever receive two Silver Slugger Awards at multiple positions (designated hitter and outfielder) in the same season.

Martinez built off the success he enjoyed in 2018 by putting together another impressive season at the plate in 2019. The veteran slugger slashed .304/.383/.557 with 33 doubles, two triples, 36 homers, 105 RBIs, 98 runs scored, two stolen bases, 72 walks, and 138 strikeouts across 146 games (657 plate appearances). He finished 21st in AL MVP voting and elected not to exercise the first of three opt-outs in his contract that winter.

The COVID-shortened 2020 season was one to forget for Martinez, whose usual in-game routine of watching film was disrupted by Major League Baseball’s virus-related dugout protocols. The right-handed hitter struggled to the tune of a .213/.291/.389 line with 16 doubles, seven homers, 27 RBIs, 22 runs scored, one stolen base, 22 walks, and 59 strikeouts over 54 games (237 plate appearances). It came as no surprise when he once again decided against opting out of his deal that November.

Martinez, like the Red Sox, bounced back last season. In the process of being named an All-Star for the third time in four years with Boston, Martinez hit .286/.349/.518 with a leage-leading 42 doubles, three triples, 28 home runs, 99 runs driven in, 92 runs scored, 55 walks, and 15o strikeouts over 148 games (634 plate appearances) for a team that was two wins away from a World Series berth.

After opting into the final year of his contract, Martinez got off to another hot start in 2022. Towards the end of May, he was batting a stout .369/.429/.573 through his first 40 games. Though his power numbers were down (five home runs in 177 plate appearances), Martinez was named to the AL All-Star team as a reserve.

Back issues hindered Martinez during the second half of the season. He was not moved at the trade deadline in August and instead batted .233/.301/.400 after the All-Star break to finish the year with a .274/.341/.448 slash line to go along with 43 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 62 RBIs, 146 runs scored, 52 walks, and 145 strikeouts over 139 games spanning 596 trips to the plate. In what would turn out be his final home game in a Red Sox uniform, Martinez went deep twice in 6-3 win over the Rays at Fenway Park.

Although the Red Sox did not extend a qualifying offer to Martinez last month, they remained interested in a reunion. Rather than come back to Boston, though, the Boras Corp. client will now reunite with former Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts and former hitting instructor Robert Van Scoyoc in Los Angeles.

Martinez, who turns 36 in August, served strictly as a designated hitter this past season and has not seen any playing time in the outfield since 2021. That being said, he should be a welcomed addition to a Dodgers lineup that has lost the likes of Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Joey Gallo in free agency.

Looking back at his time with the Red Sox, Martinez is undoubtedly one of the greatest free-agent signings in franchise history. In 637 career games with Boston, Martinez slashed .292/.363/.526 with 130 homers and 423 RBIs. He won two Silver Sluggers and was named an All-Star in four of his five seasons with the club.

With Martinez headed west, the Sox have now seen one-third of their 2022 Opening Day lineup leave in free agency this winter. In addition to Martinez, shortstop Xander Bogaerts has signed an 11-year, $280 million contract with the Padres while catcher Christian Vazquez inked a three-year, $30 million deal with the Twins. Nathan Eovaldi, who started against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees on that faithful April afternoon, remains unsigned.

How the Red Sox go about replacing Martinez in the lineup next season should be interesting. Masataka Yoshida figures to see the lion’s share of his playing time come in left field but could slot in at designated hitter from time to time as well. It seems likely that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora will utilize a “DH-by committee” approach as opposed to committing to just one player as they have in years past. That would allow for more versatility on the roster while also giving more players the opportunity to get off their feet by not playing the field on certain days.

(Picture of Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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