Several big names remain available on the MLB free agent market. But no player could have a bigger impact igniting an offense than J.D. Martinez. The former Arizona Diamondbacks star is coming off a terrific season where he hit .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI. He was one of the leaders in all of baseball in the home run department, but most of that came thanks to his impressive stretch after the All-Star Game.
During the second half of the season, J.D. Martinez hit 31 home runs in 66 games, slugging .751, in a stretch that might catapult him to the largest free-agent contract this offseason. His agent, Scott Boras, recently said his client was looking at a $200 million contract. But the reality is that he might have to settle for a deal in the $150M or $160M range.
Boras is being aggressive in Martinez’s market, there’s no doubt about. And he is not selling his client as a one-year wonder because the numbers back him up. Over the past four seasons, he hit .300/.362/.574. Not including 2017 rookies Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, only Mike Trout has a higher slugging percentage. Only Trout, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper have a higher wOBA. Martinez is coming off a season in which he hit 45 home runs in just 119 games, so he is clearly one of the game’s elite hitters.
With that being said, where could he end up? Here are the three most likely (and logical) alternatives for the free-agent slugger.
Why not start with the team where Martinez was more successful? He emerged as an elite hitter during his time with Arizona, and the DBacks would be keen to welcome him back. But the main problem here is that Martinez is already 30 years old. He is not going to sign a one-year deal, so if any NL team takes him, it must be taken into account that he is only going to get worse defensively as years go by. But if any NL team is going to make a move for him, it’s definitively Arizona.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have been the most aggressive team in the pursuit of Martinez, to the point that they submitted a five-year, $150 million offer for his services. But Martinez did not agree to that, and Boston is not keen to up the ante, so it seems the talks are dead at the moment. And if we add the fact that Martinez would reportedly prefer to sign elsewhere, then it seems J.D. isn’t going to Boston anytime soon. Even if the reunion between both parties makes too much sense for it not to happen.
The third and final alternative would be the Baltimore Orioles. Even though they have not been linked with a move for Martinez, Baltimore needs a player like him. They have a glaring hole in the outfield and Martinez could patch it, even if placing him out there alongside Trey Mancini and Adam Jones would be a defensive disaster. He can also thrive as a DH, allowing Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo to get some much-needed rest as well. It remains to be seen whether they pull the trigger or not. But both parties could benefit from a reunion.