A tumultuous offseason that’s seen more conflict than contracts being finalized reportedly added another layer of turmoil this week.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, free agent slugger J.D. Martinez has become “fed up” with the Boston Red Sox unwillingness to meet the contract demands presented by his agent, Scott Boras. The report goes as far as to say Martinez would consider sitting out the beginning of the season if he doesn’t receive a satisfactory offer.
Naturally, the first thought here is that Martinez and Boras are leaking discontent for posturing purposes, hoping it might urge Boston to budge. It’s a game all agents play, but Boras has seemingly mastered pushing the right buttons to get a reaction and ultimately the deal he’s seeking. Just check out his track record of landing mega-deals for his clients.
With that in mind, perhaps both sides have been playing the game this time around. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Red Sox explored the possibility of trading outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Cleveland Indians for slugger Edwin Encarnacion over the winter. Such a deal would make a Martinez signing far less essential for Boston, so that news coming out now should be an attention grabber for Martinez’s camp.
For the record, both Boras and Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski have denied there’s tension surrounding the Martinez negotiations. Both say talks are ongoing and that they’re on good terms. Whether that’s true, or whether this is one or both sides playing hard ball, it’s still clear that there’s only one conclusion that makes sense, and that’s Martinez ending up in a Red Sox uniform. There’s no other resolution that’s even on the radar right now.
The Red Sox never could replace the production lost when David Ortiz retired after the 2016 season. Martinez, on the other hand, provided an incredible boost for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline, hitting 29 home runs in 62 games while helping lead them to the postseason. A repeat of that production is not likely, but anything close to it would boost a Boston offense that hit the fourth fewest homers (168) in MLB in 2017.
As for Martinez, he’s set his demands so high — at one time he reportedly sought $200 million — that other teams aren’t bothering to call. Nightengale says the Arizona Diamondbacks are the only other team to make an offer to Martinez, and it was only for one year. Martinez is seeking up to seven years, and undoubtedly more money than Arizona could reasonably offer.
If there really is an opening for another team to swoop in and woo Martinez, it might be the San Francisco Giants. They’ve been aggressive this winter, adding Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in trades, but they could still use another bat. They’ve never been shy about spending money, so maybe they could put together a competing offer.
At the end of the day, everything still points to Boston being the best and most obvious spot for Martinez to go, and Martinez being the best and most obvious fit for Boston. The sooner they both accept that and work towards a compromise, the sooner a deal can get done, and maybe, just maybe, some other signings can follow.
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