By Ross Sutton
Throughout the offseason, the large majority of baseball fans have believed that power hitting outfielder, J.D Martinez, will sign with the Boston Red Sox. It was reported on January 19th by Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald that the Red Sox had offered Martinez a 5 year deal worth $125 million, which is much lower than the 7 year contract worth approximately $200 million that Martinez and his agent Scott Boras expect to receive. Then, it was reported yesterday by Ken Rosenthal that Martinez is “fed up with the Red Sox’s inflexibility and would rather sign with another club”. I never thought that it was a done deal that Martinez would sign with the Red Sox like others have speculated this offseason. Martinez has said before that he would prefer to play the outfield and the Red Sox already have young talent at each of the three outfield spots. This would likely force Martinez to act as the team’s designated hitter for the large majority of games. Martinez and Boras also seem to have their hearts set on getting a 7 year contract from a team and have expressed their willingness to start the regular season unsigned and simply wait until they receive what they believe is a fair deal. When considering all the facts, I could definitely see a scenario in which a team other than the Red Sox decides to pay up and sign J.D Martinez, but what teams could realistically do this?
I predicted earlier this offseason that the Toronto Blue Jays would be a great fit for Martinez as they had a lack of depth at the outfield positions at the time and could sign Martinez as a way to entice star Josh Donaldson to re-sign with the team after this season. Since then, the Blue Jays have acquired outfielders Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson, and already had Kevin Pillar and Steve Pearce signed for this upcoming season. Despite the fact that I believe it would still make sense for the Blue Jays to sign Martinez, it certainly seems unlikely right now. In my opinion this leaves the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres as teams that could sign Martinez.
The Diamondbacks are an obvious landing spot for Martinez, as he was acquired by the team at the trade deadline last season and played incredibly well to push the team into the playoffs. The biggest problem for the Diamondbacks is money. They seem unlikely to have enough money to pay Martinez unless they found a way to trade starting pitcher Zack Greinke. Trading Greinke would not be an easy task due to the 4 years worth $138.5 million left on his current contract. On top of that, Greinke also has a 15 team trade block clause in his contract which only limits the teams the Diamondbacks would be able to trade him to. All things considered, I doubt this will be the landing spot for Martinez.
The Rangers and Padres are very interesting options though, as they both have some money to spend and could be looking to add an outfielder. The Rangers have Shin-Soo Choo, Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields as their current group of outfielders and I believe they could either trade Choo to clear up more money or not trade Choo and simply sign Martinez and try to win now. The Rangers also play in the American League, so maybe if Martinez changes his mind about being a designated hitter when he is older, the team could use him there as he loses mobility in the outfield.
The Padres have shown a willingness to spend this offseason as they reportedly offered Eric Hosmer a 7 year contract. I believe that if Eric Hosmer decides to re-sign with Kansas City, the Padres could pivot and give Martinez the 7 year deal he is coveting. This also means that the current face of the Padres, Will Myers, could stay at first base rather than moving to the outfield as it was rumored he would if San Diego were to sign Hosmer. The Padres could then build a contending team around Myers and Martinez for years to come. But now that the Blue Jays look to be set in the outfield, I would have to say that the Red Sox are still the frontrunner to sign Martinez, despite recent reports, due to the lack of teams that seem to be a good fit to sign him.
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