After a week of medical reviews and some reported alterations to the language in his five-year, $110MM contract, J.D. Martinez was introduced by the Red Sox at a press conference this morning (video link via MLB.com). Seemingly, the Lisfranc foot injury that hampered Martinez early in the 2017 season served as enough of a red flag for the Sox that further work needed to be done to sort the matter out.
Agent Scott Boras met with reporters following Martinez’s introduction today, revealing that the new contract language includes the addition of a third player opt-out (after the fourth season of the contract) in exchange for some medical protection for the Red Sox (Twitter links via Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston and Mark Feinsand of MLB.com). Specifically, Drellich further reports, the Red Sox can convert both years four and five of the contract into mutual options, pursuant to the newly drawn-up language. In essence, then, the Sox have negotiated their own means of walking away from the final two years of the contract in the event that Martinez’s foot proves to be a chronic condition.
Per Drellich, should Martinez spend 60 consecutive days on the DL in year three of the contract (2020) with an injury related to his prior Lisfranc injury, the fourth year can be converted into a mutual option. Boston could also convert the fourth year to a mutual option should an injury pertaining to the prior Lisfranc issue prompt Martinez miss a combined 120 days between the second and third years of the deal (2019-20), with at least 10 of those days coming in year three. (The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo first tweeted that the team could render the fourth year a mutual option.)
Boston is similarly protected in the fifth season of the contract. If an injury pertaining to his previous Lisfranc issue causes Martinez to miss 60 consecutive days in the fourth year of the deal (2021) or a combined 120 days in 2020-21 (with at least 10 in year four), then the 2022 season can be converted to a mutual option. All determinations about whether a new Lisfranc injury for Martinez is related to the 2017 injury would be made by a panel of three doctors.
In the end, the week of back-and-forth does little to change the immediate bottom line for the Sox or Martinez. Red Sox evaluators were satisfied enough with Martinez’s health that they didn’t see fit to alter the length of the contract or the total guarantee. By all accounts, the involved parties all expect Martinez to be healthy in 2018 and serve as a potent weapon in the middle of the Boston lineup. Viewed through that lens, the medical hoops through which both sides have been jumping over the past week could all be rendered moot. If Martinez’s offense in his first two seasons with Boston mirrors his productivity over the past four seasons, he’s quite likely to exercise the first of three contractual opt-out clauses.
At that point, in order to come out ahead, Martinez would need only to top the three-year, $60MM contract which Edwin Encarnacion received last offseason when he was two years older than Martinez will be in that 2019-20 offseason. Boston would be able to make Martinez a qualifying offer, should he decide to opt out of the remaining three years of the deal. He did not receive one this offseason by virtue of being traded from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks in July.
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