Posted on February 19, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The biggest fish in the free agent pond has finally been caught. After a long, drawn-out saga, J.D. Martinez has finally agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox. According to reports, the two sides have reached a deal on a five-year contract worth $110 million. Martinez will reportedly make $50 million over the first two years of the deal, at which point he has an opt-out in his contract.
The deal is not quite what Martinez envisioned at the start of the season. In November, Martinez was reportedly seeking $200 million. However, interest in Martinez was far more tepid than anyone expected. Ultimately, the Red Sox and Diamondbacks were the only teams to show serious interest. For Arizona, being able to re-sign Martinez would have stretched them financially. That put Boston in the driver’s seat. With the Red Sox careful not to bid against themselves, the price for Martinez stayed around $100 million.
Obviously, Martinez getting $50 million over the first two years of his deal is quite the payday. However, if the Red Sox get him for five years at $110 million, it could turn into quite the bargain. Martinez is coming off a career year in which he hit .303 with an OPS of 1.066. He hit 45 home runs with 104 RBIs, making him one of the most impactful offensive players in the game.
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For the Red Sox, Martinez provides the power bat they’ve coveted all offseason. Despite winning the AL East last year, the Red Sox hit the fewest home runs in the American League last season. GM Dave Dombrowski made it a priority to add power to the team’s lineup this winter, and while he slow played things, he finally got his man.
Martinez figures to be Boston’s primary DH in 2018. His poor grades in defensive metrics may have hurt his value this offseason, but that doesn’t figure to be an issue with the Red Sox. Barring an injury to Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Mookie Betts, Martinez figures to be in the lineup as a DH most days.
With Martinez likely entrenched in the DH spot, that leaves Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland to share duties at first base. Ramirez only played 18 games at first base last year, in part because of a shoulder injury. He said early in the offseason that he’d be ready to play first base in 2018 if needed. But if his shoulder problem returns, it could be difficult for him to get regular at-bats with Martinez now the team’s DH.
Ultimately, both sides should be pleased with this deal. Martinez won’t get the money he wanted, but getting $50 million over two seasons with the option to return to the open market is a good deal for him. If nothing else, he landed a 9-figure contract coming off last year’s outstanding season. The Red Sox, meanwhile, added the power bat they desperately needed. With the other teams in the American League, most notably the Yankees, improving this offseason, the Red Sox needed Martinez, and they finally got him.