Posted on January 11, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The baseball offseason has been historically slow this winter. Unfortunately, there appears to be no end in sight. At the top of the market is outfielder J.D. Martinez. In many ways, teams and other free agents are waiting for him to sign to set the market price. However, there has been little movement toward Martinez signing with a team, and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. According to reports, Martinez could wait until after the start of spring training to sign with a team if he doesn’t get the kind of offers he feels he deserves.
Among the teams interested in signing Martinez, the Boston Red Sox have been linked with him the most. The Red Sox appear bound and determined to add power to their lineup. Signing Martinez is the best way to do that. However, the sides have not been able to reach an agreement. Boston has reportedly offered Martinez a five-year deal. But Martinez is holding out for more.
At the start of the offseason, agent Scott Boras stated that Martinez would be seeking a deal worth $200 million. It wasn’t the craziest statement Boras has ever made. Outside of two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, Martinez was clearly the best free agent on the market this winter. It made sense that he would have a high asking price.
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However, teams are starting to put less value on players that lack a diverse skill set. While Martinez was one of the most productive hitters in baseball last year, hitting 45 home runs and posting an OPS of 1.066, he doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of speed or defense. As a result, teams are unwilling to offer anything close to $200 million to sign him.
According to recent reports, offers for Martinez have been between $120 million and $150 million. The offers are also for no more than five years. Martinez appears to be holding out for at least a six-year offer. The result is a game of chicken between Martinez and his suitors, most notably the Red Sox, who have long been considered the favorites to sign him.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are another team that has made its interest in Martinez obvious. Arizona has entertained the idea of trading Zack Greinke to help free up money to spend on Martinez. However, it’s hard to see them or any other team being able to outbid the Red Sox, and at this point, Martinez isn’t getting the kind of offer from Boston that he wants.
Meanwhile, the rest of the free agent market remains largely stagnant. Players like Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce, who are potential alternatives for teams with interest in Martinez, have come off the board. But there has been little movement otherwise. That could continue to be the case as long as Martinez continues to hold out for better offers.
In fairness to Martinez, he has every right to wait for what he believes is a fair offer. However, both he and Boras need to recognize that the game is starting to change. Martinez doesn’t have the ideal skill set that teams now covet. He’s also trying to land a monster deal off one great season, not a track record of sustained success. Martinez isn’t going to make any money unless he signs with a team, and in the game of chicken he’s started, he should be the one that blinks first.