Top free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez and the Boston Red Sox have been engaged in a staredown/stalemate for weeks. And judging by Martinez’s commitment to the cause, it may go on quite awhile longer.
Miami acquaintances of Martinez say he is willing to “hold out,” certainly into spring training, for what he believes should be his market value. The Red Sox have offered Martinez a five-year deal, and sources suggest at least one other has, too.
The Diamondbacks still have Martinez atop their list as well, and while a D-backs person suggested he didn’t believe an official five-year offer was extended, it’s hard to imagine them still being in it for less, and they are in it.
In any case, word coming out of Miami is that Martinez, 30, believes it appropriate that he get a six-year deal. It isn’t known what kind of total dollars the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and maybe others are offering (the Jays also have been showing interest and met with Martinez at the Winter Meetings), but sources suggest that Martinez is seeking $30 million-plus annually — $200 million if he can get it but at least $180 million, following his boffo season, first in Detroit and then Arizona.
The interested teams are believed offering somewhere in the $120 million to $150 million range (yes, that’s a big range, but the offers to this point are unknown). So it’s believed he’s in the neighborhood of around $50 million short of the asking price at present. That sounds like a lot.
But Martinez’s willingness to wait is bolstered by the reality that there are multiple teams involved (Arizona’s involvement may have been underplayed to this point) at somewhat similar levels, and also the fact that there is no one comparable – at least when it comes to 2017 performance. Jay Bruce and Carlos Gonzalez have been productive offensive performers, but Martinez’s 2017 season was extraordinary while Bruce’s was just very good and CarGo’s uncharacteristically unproductive (at least until the final several weeks).
While Boston has been seen as the favorite, word is Martinez prefers to play the outfield rather than DH, which is one edge the D-backs may have, and they’ve hired his personal hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc, as the team’s hitting strategist.
Martinez’s asking price is based on his monster season, in which he became the first player to hit 45 home runs in fewer than 120 games (he played 119) and posted a slugging percentage at .690 overall — .741 in Arizona — that would have been the highest in a season since Barry Bonds had Martinez had a few more plate appearances to qualify.
Some have seen Justin Upton as a comp, and he received a very nice $132.75 million, six-year deal with the Tigers two winters ago. His agent, Scott Boras, met at one point with D-backs owner Ken Kendrick, but as far as Boston goes, so far GM Dave Dombrowski has been handling things, and Dombrowski appears to be drawing the line at five years.