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Oh, good, the Red Sox snatched up J.D. Martinez on a discount

Finally, something goes right for the struggling Red Sox.

MLB: NL Wildcard-Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox signed slugger J.D. Martinez, who hits baseballs so well and so far that he legally has to be introduced as “slugger J.D. Martinez.” Legally!

This deal will allow the Red Sox to plop him down in the DH role and let him do a right-handed Big Papi imitation for the next five years. Martinez will hit. And he will hit well. For a team that can really, really use him. Mercy.

The contract was for five years and $110 million. Or, as I like to call it, “just a little above Wei-Yin Chen money.” Just last year, I would have lauded the Red Sox for getting a bargain like this. What a coup! Do they have compromising pictures of Scott Boras, ha ha? Team-friendly, below-market, win-now, blah blah blah. We’re talking 12 months ago that I would have vomited all of those words onto this site.

Right now, though, it’s just weird.

Consider Yoenis Cespedes, who extracted $110 million from a famously stingy ownership group just last year for a four-year deal. Martinez hit .303/.376/.690 with 45 homers with iffy corner outfield defense when he was 29. Cespedes hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 homers with iffy centerfield defense when he was 30. All things being equal, assuming that I’m signing a player for an opening in left field, right field, or DH, I take Martinez. He’s younger, coming off the better season, and his OPS+ for the last three years is roughly the same as Cespedes’ New York Post-melting OPS+ from his 57 games with the Mets in 2015.

But it was Cespedes who got that much money from a team that doesn’t like to spend.

Let’s check in on what that deal looked like before it happened:

Now here comes the gamble: The Mets are confident that Cespedes now knows how much they need him back in their lineup for 2017, and they are hopeful that his desire to return will help them in what is already proving to be a competitive market for the outfielder this offseason.

The caption under the picture in that article even mentions a “hometown discount.” Huh.

Martinez, on the other hand, had to go to the team with the highest payroll in baseball and settle for a discount. He had one of the greatest second halves in the history of the game (and a three-year stretch in which he was clearly one of the greatest all-around hitters in baseball), and he ambled into the arms of the Red Sox for Hunter Pence money*.

* I mean, Hunter Pence is great. He’s a dream of a teammate and an engaging, popular player. But in the season he signed his five-year, $90 million extension, he hit three more home runs in a full 162-game season than Martinez did in his 62 games with the Diamondbacks.

If you want baseball analysis, well, sure.

He’s J.D. Martinez. He’s great. He hits a lot of dingers.

But this is the kind of contract that needs state-of-baseball analysis. Because right now, there’s someone ready to argue on behalf of the rich teams:

Look, they all wised up and realized that big contracts to free agents weren’t smart. And every team did this at the same time.

Maybe! It doesn’t have to be big-C collusion. Barry Bonds lost his collusion case because of a lack of evidence and a reasonable hypothesis that maybe all 30 teams just didn’t want to deal with the bullshit. What we have here is a lack of evidence and a reasonable hypothesis, which is that teams didn’t want a two-tool player entering his age-30 season on a six-year deal — which Martinez definitely would have received a decade ago.

But, still, maybe it’s just the trend. Teams aren’t paying cash money for players coming off huge seasons.

And my point, my thesis, my overarching message here is this: Well, look at this crap. It looks like this new system also benefits the Red Sox, just like the last one.

The last system also benefited the Red Sox. Uh oh! Our talented superstar is a free agent! Looks like the Red Sox or Yankees are going to come and sign him! And then the Red Sox or Yankees would sign him. Or the Dodgers or Giants or Cardinals or Tigers or Rangers, or whatever. The great players would get paid, and it was usually a rich team that would pay them.

This system is the same thing, except ... there’s less money involved?

The Twins are going to rely on Max Kepler and Eduardo Escobar next year. Good for them! Might work out!

The Indians are pretty sure that Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall will handle the corner outfield spots for a team desperately trying to break a curse that existed before there was color TV. Might work out!

Down the line, from Texas to San Francisco to Houston to Los Angeles, there wasn’t a single team that couldn’t use a .300 average and 40 home runs from left field, right field, or DH. But they all backed off. “Whoa,” they said. “We can’t pay Martinez the kind of money that we used to pay Pablo Sandoval. That’s just weird. Let the Red Sox do that.”

In three or four years, maybe Martinez is a dud. It happens with free agents. Here, look at the biggest deals in history. There are some successes. There are a lot of failures. I just referenced Pablo Sandoval in the last paragraph, and Martinez is going to the same team.

For the most part, though, the star players helped their new, rich teams win a lot before being pushed aside for different star players who helped their new, rich teams win. For the next two years, Martinez helps a team win. That team happens to be one that will fail unless it wins the World Series, and he’s sort of a perfect fit for them. He’s 30 and doesn’t come with a mess of red flags. He’s been an excellent hitter for the last four years, and for the last four months, he was a transcendent, otherworldly hitter. That used to be the perfect storm for a Boras client looking for a big payday.

Right now, though, it’s the kind of player who gets snatched up by a super-powered Red Sox team. Just like before. The only difference is that Fenway Sports Group, LLC gets to save some money this time. Maybe they can keep the next Philippe Coutinho. Cross your fingers.

Where were the other teams? The ones that also could have used a high-contact dinger machine? There were 29 teams that could have been better with J.D. Martinez this offseason. Are you telling me that one of them wasn’t willing to pay a premium for someone who played 62 games in the NL and still got MVP votes?

I don’t understand this new reality.

Give me a blanket, dammit. I’m cold.

Back in my day, let me tell you, things were different.

The Bonds analogy up there works in another way, too: In 10 years, we’re going to laugh at one of these stupid teams for coming up short on Martinez. They can all use him. But it was the rich team that got him. Meet the new league, same as the old league. The only difference is that the players are much, much angrier.