Posted on February 7, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Despite a proverbial game of chicken between free agent J.D. Martinez and the Boston Red Sox that has seemingly been going on all offseason, the odds have always been good that Martinez would end up in Boston when all is said and done. However, recent reports indicate that Martinez may be willing to move on from the Red Sox as a suitor. It’s also possible that the Red Sox are ready to do the same.
Martinez began the offseason in search of a $200 million contract. But with a slow market, he hasn’t come close to that figure. The Red Sox have reportedly made a five-year, $125 million offer to Martinez. By all accounts, that’s the best offer Martinez has received this winter. But it doesn’t appear to be good enough. Martinez has not agreed to that offer and has indicated that he’s willing to hold out through the start of spring training in order to find a more lucrative offer.
There is also a report from Ken Rosenthal that Martinez is telling people he is “fed up” with the Red Sox, indicating he would prefer to go somewhere other than Boston. However, there’s little reason to believe Martinez has had serious interest from teams aside from the Red Sox. As a result, the Red Sox don’t feel the need to go beyond their five-year, $125 million offer.
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The lone exception to that could be the Arizona Diamondbacks. Martinez was traded to the Diamondbacks in August and helped them reach the Wild Card Playoff. Arizona has made it clear that they would like to bring Martinez back to the desert. However, the Diamondbacks don’t appear to have the cash necessary to compete with the $125 million offer from the Red Sox. Arizona would need to free up money with a trade or two, which is a tough proposition at this point in the offseason.
That still leaves the Red Sox as the most likely landing spot for Martinez. It’s been reported that the Red Sox want to add a power hitter this winter. However, Boston isn’t all that motivated to go beyond their original offer, and for good reason. If Martinez signs with Boston, he’ll likely be the team’s DH. However, the Red Sox can easily have Hanley Ramirez be their full time DH with Mitch Moreland at first base. Thus, the Red Sox have no reason to be overly aggressive toward signing Martinez.
“I don’t have a (timetable) on it, because I really don’t know,” Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski said of the situation with Martinez. “Perhaps if I was losing options, juggling three guys, or if we were in the starting-pitching market where there are four (top) guys, I would say, ‘Hey, I need an answer now, or I’m going to turn to this guy.’ But we’re really not in that situation.”
As it stands, neither side appears willing to budge, continuing the game of chicken. Ultimately, Martinez needs to be the one to blink. The Red Sox could field a lineup they like with players already on their roster. Martinez, meanwhile, isn’t going to get paid unless he signs with a team. He also doesn’t appear to have many serious suitors outside of the Red Sox and Diamondbacks. At this point, Martinez would be wise to sign with Boston soon before they move on from him permanently.