After an offseason of apparent frustration with teams’ negotiating tactics and the offers he was being presented with, J.D. Martinez finally has a home for the 2018 season. FanRag’s Jon Heyman originally reported that Martinez and Boston were close to a deal with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez confirming that a deal was in place.
The deal is reportedly worth $110 million over five years, according to Jon Morosi, with a player opt-out after two years. Martinez and his agent Scott Boras were aiming for something in the $200 million range for five or six years of his service, which was never going to be the case, but something lower than $120 million would be seen as a huge deal for the Sox in any other offseason.
This offseason, it’s less surprising but still a little shocking that Martinez settled for something so low based on what he originally wanted. Maybe the leverage he thought he had wasn’t actually that good, or maybe escalators in the deal and the opt-out we know about will counterbalance the lump sum.
Martinez hit .303/.376/.690 (a career-high slugging percentage) with a 1.066 OPS and a 166+ in 119 games between the Tigers and Diamondbacks in 2017. He’s averaged 32 home runs a year since 2014, with an average 149+ OPS and a slash line of .300/.362/.574 with a .936 OPS in that span. He’s also slugged above .545 in four of the last five seasons.
Defensively, Martinez isn’t much to write home about (which might be too nice to say about his performance in the outfield) but no team was chasing him for his defense. He’s entering his age-30 season and it’s easy to believe the Sox will be happy if his offense stays even remotely at the level it was in 2017.
And if they have to permanently move him to a DH role in a few seasons rather than having him split time between there and the outfield than so be it. It’s far easier to convince him to make that shift after he’s on the team, rather than trying to pressure him into accepting a DH-only role right now.
Boston needs more offense though, as their lineup hit a middling .258 (13th in the league) with a paltry 168 home runs (27th in the league) in 2017. One man can’t fix every issue in that lineup but he’ll give them the boost they’ve been looking for, a step up that they could really use.