The baseball world is waiting on J.D. Martinez to make a decision, and by the sounds of it, Martinez is ready to make them wait even longer.
The free agent slugger is the best bat on the market, and a handful of teams reportedly have interest in the 30-year-old. But Martinez and agent Scott Boras haven’t seen any offers they like yet, and the outfielder is willing to “hold out” — even into spring training — to get the offer he feels he deserves, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday, citing Martinez’s “Miami acquaintances.”
Whether he ever gets that offer remains to be seen, but according to Heyman, Martinez seeks a six-year deal. Heyman notes Martinez’s preference is a $200 million contract, but he’s willing to settle for $30 million per season (if one actually “settles” for such a sum of money). The Boston Red Sox offered Martinez a five-year deal, and another team has a contract offer on the table, sources told Heyman.
Another wrinkle is that Martinez reportedly prefers to play the outfield over becoming a designated hitter. The Red Sox currently have a crowded (and talented) outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Of course, things can change at any moment, but if Boston is forced to wait until spring training, that obviously makes the situation more complicated.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Martinez’s employer for the final two months of the 2017 season, also are seen as a contender for Martinez, according to multiple reports. The National League club certainly would be able to guarantee Martinez plays the outfield, and the D-Backs recently hired his personal hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc, in a hitting strategist role, as noted by Heyman. Whether Arizona can afford Martinez remains to be seen, but if he really wants to play in the field, maybe Arizona can it get it done for a little less money.
The Red Sox have the money and the need for Martinez, though. No big league team is falling over itself to give a free agent on the wrong side of 30 a six-year contract, but it might ultimately be in Boston’s best interest. At the very least, offering Martinez a longer contract will allow the club to drive down his annual average value (AAV) and give the team a little more breathing room against the luxury tax.
In short, it’s now just a game of chicken between Martinez and the Red Sox (and any other teams who might be in on him). Let the waiting game continue.
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