While Martinez’ agent, Scott Boras and Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski continue their staring contest, other teams are slowly starting to enter the into the conversation.
The Red Sox did indeed offer a five-year deal, as Nightengale reported. But word is there are other five-year offers. So while they seem like the logical landing spot, as the richest team in the mix (the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and perhaps the Giants are the others known to be at least dabbling in the derby), they probably can’t be called the bona-fide favorite unless they go to six years, which might have the potential to carry the day.
Heyman is correct in thinking the sixth year has the potential to sway the pendulum towards whomever offers it but what if more than one team splashes the pot with a 6th year?
For the two National League teams, a six-year offer for a thirty-year old, defensive liability like Martinez jumps over the line of a smart baseball decision. Neither the Giants nor the Diamondbacks would have the designated hitter rule to fall back on if it becomes necessary in the latter years of a deal.
And that’s just the beginning of the obstacles for the two National League suitors.
Martinez’ bat would certainly warrant him supplanting Tomas but the Cuban OF/3B has 3 more years and $46.5 MM left on a contract that would be tough to move given his up and down track record.
Arizona already has $123 MM projected for their 2018 payroll with CEO, Derek Hall, suggesting the team would stay close to the $105 MM payroll they had back in 2017. The Diamondbacks could get creative but would probably need to move a Zack Greinke or Yasmany Tomas level contract to sign Martinez and stay fiscally responsible at the same time.
San Francisco has major contract issues of their own. Following the Evan Longoria trade, the Giants now have seven players- Posey, Melancon, Cueto, Samardzija, Crawford, Belt, and Longoria- making $15 MM or more for the next three seasons with Hunter Pence also signed for $18.5 MM in 2018 before he hits free agency.
You may have noticed that Madison Bumgarner is missing from that list. Well, his team friendly $12 MM per year contract expires after the upcoming season, so the Giants will have to carve out some money if they hope too keep their ace by the Bay on q long term basis.
The Giants also have no farm system to replenish the team should their stable of aging veterans continue to be plagued with the same injury bug that derailed them in 2017.
In addition to their payroll issues, the Giants need an athletic and defensively gifted center-fielder to handle the vast expanse of AT&T Park. This is why they seem so intent on trying to acquire Billy Hamilton or Andrew McCutchen.
That leaves the Blue Jays as the Red Sox’ key competitor in the J.D. Martinez sweepstakes.
Back in 2015, Toronto led all of baseball with 232 homers then followed that up with MLB‘s 4th best homerun output by finishing with 221 bombs in 2016. They slipped a handful of spots among the league rankings despite hitting 222 homers in 2017. Losing Edwin Encarnacion didn’t hurt their totals but homerun rates were up significantly across MLB last season and they’ve long been known as a team that relies heavily on going bridge.
This offseason they are allowing Jose Bautista to walk away. The name currently projected to replace Joey Bats in right-field is Teoscar Hernandez who doesn’t exactly elicit fear from opposing pitchers.
This leaves Toronto with a clear need for a corner outfielder and we already know that J.D. Martinez told teams that although he would DH, his preference is to play the outfield.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH.
This would appear to give the Jays a slight edge as far as positional preference is concerned.
From a financial standpoint, the Jays have at least $48 MM coming off of their books after 2018 and will also be opening up the DH position once Kendrys Morales‘ contract expires following the 2019 season.
For some reason, the majority of Jays’ rumors in this Hot Stove season have revolved around teams kicking the tires on a possible Josh Donaldson trade or are centered around free agent Jay Bruce. But I’m starting to get the impression that super agent, Scott Boras knows he can leverage the Jays versus their division foe Red Sox.
I think the Red Sox being the better team puts them in the driver’s seat if money and contract length are close to equal.
Martinez’ desire to play the outfield can be quelled to a degree in a 4th outfielder role while Dombrowski could upsell the rich history of Red Sox left-fielders.
In the end, I believe Boston will be the choice of the power hitting Martinez but the Jays get some consolation knowing they helped drive the price up on the contract.
I’m sticking with my Top 15 Free Agents prediction of 6 years, $150 MM.