With the holiday season officially over, the slow baseball offseason can get back into action. Hopefully, the hot stove will really start to flourish over the next couple of weeks, and many of us expect the Red Sox to be right in the middle of it. Well, at least we expect them to be right in the middle of one market in particular. The speculation connecting Boston and J.D. Martinez, the best hitter available in free agency, has been endless basically since September. Now, thanks to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, we have learned that the Red Sox have offered a five-year contract to the right-handed slugger.
The first thing to consider whenever any report like this comes out is who would be leaking this kind of information and what they have to gain. That’s not to say we should doubt every report, but people don’t just let this information get out for no reason. In this case, the Red Sox don’t have much of a reason to leak this information unless there is another bat they are chasing without our knowledge. Perhaps this is to gain leverage in a Manny Machado trade scenario, but I’d be surprised. Instead, this would make sense for Martinez’ camp to leak out so other teams who are interested in the former Tiger and Diamondback may pursue Martinez with more urgency.
All of that being said, again, this is not me doubting the report. This seems like a very reasonable and likely move from the Red Sox, and it’s not so outrageous to dismiss entirely. Martinez and his agent Scott Boras entered the offseason reportedly looking for over $200 million in total guaranteed money, but everyone knew that was a longshot at best at the time. A five-year deal would have to be worth at least $40 million per year for that money to work and, well, nah. Still, while we don’t know the money involved one would assume that Martinez is looking at something in the $25-$30 million mark on a per-year basis.
Some will surely scoff at the idea of signing Martinez for five years, and it’s understandable given the poor production Boston has gotten from other recent long-term signings. However, five years doesn’t really sound like too much to me for someone like Martinez. We’re talking about one of the very best hitters in baseball over the last few years — his 148 wRC+ since the start of 2014 is tied for fourth among qualified hitters with Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt — and he’s just entering his age-30 season. I wouldn’t be expecting improvement, but Martinez has shown little reason to doubt he will stop mashing for at least a few years. Perhaps the last year and change of a five-year deal would start to look ugly, but if he plays up to his talent level on the front end of the deal it would be more than worth it.
Anyway, none of this is confirmed by either side and it’s one of those things that we really won’t know about until the former All-Star makes his final decision. Still, there is plenty of smoke around these two sides and it’s always made the most sense of any move since the beginning of the offseason. With any luck, we won’t be waiting much longer to hear whether or not a deal has actually been agreed upon.