Posted on November 9, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
There is little debate that Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder J.D. Martinez is the best hitter on the free-agent market this winter. He’s coming off an outstanding season, hitting .303 with 45 home runs, posting an OPS of 1.066. With Scott Boras now serving as his agent and Martinez being the best offensive player available, there’s no doubt that the asking price for his services will be high. However, there are already reports that Boras is asking teams to shell out close to $200 million to sign Martinez.
“He’s a superstar talent,” Boras said of Martinez. “He’s done things that few players have done.”
Considering that Martinez missed the first five weeks of the season with a thumb injury, his numbers in 2017 are all the more impressive. Boras has compared Martinez to Yoenis Cespedes, the top power hitter in last year’s free-agent class, and Justin Upton, who recently signed an extension with the Angels. Naturally, Boras believes that Martinez is in a class of his own, far above players like Cespedes and Upton.
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“Do any of them hit 40-something home runs and hit .300?” says Boras. “Neither have hit 40 in a season. You have to look at performance and say, ‘Where is the performer who is comparable?’ And you go from there. I don’t believe any of those performers are in that place.”
Boras, of course, will shop Martinez around and look for the best contract. But he appears willing to give the Diamondbacks a fair shot at retaining Martinez. After acquiring Martinez from the Detroit Tigers in July, Arizona went on to claim a wild-card spot. Boras believes that seeing him up close for two and a half months could help convince Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick to make a serious effort to re-sign Martinez.
“He’s been a very competitive owner, a good owner in that way,” Boras said of Kendrick. “The great thing is it’s rare in free agency where you get a chance to see the player perform in your market and with your team.”
Keeping Martinez alongside Paul Goldschmidt and the other young position players in Arizona’s lineup would no doubt help the Diamondbacks continue to have one of the most potent lineups in baseball. However, it remains to be seen whether the Diamondbacks can afford to sign Martinez for $200 million. Arizona already has a $200 million contract on their payroll belonging to Zack Greinke. The Diamondbacks aren’t necessarily the kind of team to spend freely. But Boras doesn’t see that as an issue.
“You don’t sign Greinke and not sign this guy,” says Boras. “I mean, once you drop in the pool, you’re in the water. Once you’re in the water, it’s kind of hard to say you’re not wet. It sends a message to the fan base about being competitive – all the things we talk about as a player.”
If Martinez doesn’t return to the Diamondbacks, the Cardinals, Giants, and Red Sox are the most likely suitors. On the surface, those teams are more likely to be able to afford a $200 million contract than the Diamondbacks. However, regardless of how high Boras is aiming, it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to find a team willing to meet his asking price for Martinez.