It has been known for some time that the Red Sox and J.D. Martinez have ongoing interest, with Boston reportedly dangling a five-year offer. In the latest update, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag writes that “acquaintances” of the open market’s top slugger believe Martinez is willing to wait to get a six-year deal — even if it means allowing camp to open without a contract in place.
Dollars remain uncertain, but Heyman provides some round numbers worth noting. Martinez is believed not only to be in search of six years, but at a premium rate of $30MM or more annually. To this point, the level of interest from teams is said to be “somewhere in the $120 million to $150 million range.”
Entering the offseason, MLBTR predicted that Martinez — who ranks second on the MLBTR list of the top 50 free agents — could land that sixth year, but at a $150MM total guarantee. We tabbed the Red Sox as the likeliest landing spot, with a variety of other teams standing as plausible alternatives.
The 30-year-old Martinez has unquestionably established himself as a top-flight hitter, with a .300/.362/.574 output at the plate since the start of 2014. That said, he lags somewhat in his glovework and baserunning. Poor grades from defensive metrics improved somewhat in 2017, though UZR and DRS both pegged Martinez as below-average in right. And Fangraphs has graded him as a notably sub-par presence on the basepaths in each of the past two seasons.
Despite his limitations, Martinez is understandably viewed as a top target. That status leaves significant leverage to work with for his agent, Scott Boras, who has frequently found big money late in the offseason. To date, Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce have each landed at or above MLBTR’s expectations with strong three-year deals, though neither broke through to earn the extra season they were seeking. Martinez and Boras evidently feel there’s still a possibility that they can convince a club to increase the commitment for a higher grade bat.
Heyman’s report indicates that organizations beyond the Red Sox are still in the hunt, which may help explain why Martinez has not been willing to move off his bargaining position. As he has suggested previously, Heyman says at least one other team has put five years on the table. Whether or not that’s the incumbent Diamondbacks is not known, but the report suggests Arizona is a serious suitor.
Still, all indications are that Boston is the most plausible fit. Reporters including Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston and WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford have examined things recently from the Sox’ perspective. The organization is obviously willing to plunk down some big cash for Martinez, but to this point has not been willing (or perhaps has not felt compelled) to promise another season. It also may still be factor that the Red Sox would plan to utilize Martinez primarily as a DH, while he’d prefer to play in the outfield.