The Boston Red Sox have finally agreed a deal with J.D. Martinez, securing the heavy hitter they desperately needed.
The 2013 World Series winner had made Martinez their No. 1 priority during the off season and late last year they began negotiations with the former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder by reportedly offering a five-year deal worth $100m.
However, talks to bring the 30-year-old to Fenway Park soon ground to a halt with both parties unable to resolve the impasse and even prompting speculation the slugger could extend his stay in Arizona.
Less than two weeks ago, Ken Rosenthal reported on The Athletic that Martinez was “fed up” with Boston and “would rather sign with another club”.
An agreement was eventually reached on Monday (19 February) and Martinez will be swapping the National League for the American League from the beginning of the season, after penning a multi-year contract.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez reported the front-loaded deal is worth $110m and includes opt-out clauses after the second and third years.
Martinez will pocket an annual $25m over each of the next two years before the first opt out, while his salary will decrease to $20m before the second opt out and then to $19m for both of the last two years if he remains with the Red Sox.
While the move could put Boston’s finances under pressure, given the Red Sox’s payroll stood at $211.5m in 2018, already above the luxury tax, it also makes perfect sense for the franchise.
Last season, the Red Sox won the AL East but languished last in the American League’s home run rankings as a number of rather evident flaws emerged.
Re-signing Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Nunez in the off-season was a steady if unspectacular move, but Martinez’s arrival should provide the Red Sox with the kind of hitting they have missed since David Ortiz retired in 2016.
Martinez, who spent last season between Detroit and Arizona, registered a career-best .303/.376/.690 batting line last year, which included the highest slugging percentage of any hitter since Barry Bonds.
Additionally, with the New York Yankees securing the services of Giancarlo Stanton and the defending champion Astros landing former No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole, Martinez’s signing is a strong statement of intent from the Red Sox.
In fact, there is very little to separate Martinez’s figures over the last four years from Stanton’s, with the former boasting a marginally better average and slugging percentage.
Of course, Stanton is a better defender than Martinez and Boston will have to find the best place in its line-up for its new signing, who prefers to play in the outfield, as the Boston Herald reported in December.
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