The Diamondbacks’ odds of re-signing free agent right fielder J.D. Martinez already looked low even before a report emerged Wednesday that he’s seeking a contract worth around $200MM in guarantees. The team’s chances of keeping the star slugger seemingly took another hit Friday when CEO Derrick Hall announced that its payroll won’t significantly climb in 2018.
“You’re not talking about $10 million,” Hall said of a potential spending increase (via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic). That’s not to say the Diamondbacks won’t increase their payroll at all, however. There could be wiggle room for them to add a few million in payroll as the offseason moves along and club gets a clearer picture of its anticipated revenue.
Arizona hasn’t opened a season above the $100MM mark since 2014, though it did close each of the past two years above that figure. Now, thanks largely to guaranteed money owed to five veterans (Zack Greinke, Yasmany Tomas, Paul Goldschmidt, Jeff Mathis and Daniel Descalso) and arbitration projections for 14 other players, the Diamondbacks are already in the $120MM range for 2018 without having added any new players, per an estimate from Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource.
All signs are pointing toward J.D. Martinez’s exit via the open market, though Hall did say Friday that the Diamondbacks are “going to be aggressive for, really, any and all players that can help us,” adding that they’re “taking a strong look” at the 30-year-old (via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com). Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, suggested Wednesday that he expects the Diamondbacks to be serious contenders to sign his client. But Hall revealed on Friday that there have not been any discussions between the club and Boras since Martinez hired him as his new representative Nov. 1.
“(We had) some good conversations (before free agency began) and since then he’s sought new representation, so things have changed from those initial conversations,” Hall said. “But J.D. is such a great guy and we’re just glad to know that he enjoyed his time here because we enjoyed him being here, too.”
After Arizona acquired Martinez from Detroit in a mid-July trade, he batted an all-world .302/.366/.741 with 29 home runs in 232 plate appearances to emerge as one of the most effective midseason pickups of all-time. That dazzling second-half output helped the Diamondbacks to a 93-69 finish and their first playoff berth since 2011, and Boras is well aware of it.
“High atop the MLB Empire rests the King Kong of Slug — a 50-point lead,” Boras said of the slugging percentage Martinez posted in Arizona (Twitter link via Jon Morosi of MLB Network). “That’s how dominant J.D. Kong is.”