Red Sox: Weighing the pros/cons of signing free agent J.D. Martinez

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: J.D. Martinez /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 06: J.D. Martinez Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 06: J.D. Martinez Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /


The appeal for Matinez comes almost exclusively from his bat. The Red Sox need power and he can provide it.

Martinez blasted 45 home runs this year in time split between the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. Only two other major league hitters tallied more. Giancarlo Stanton doesn’t appear to have any interest in being traded to Boston. The Red Sox need a slugger to match up with the threat Aaron Judge provides to the New York Yankees lineup and Martinez is capable of being that guy.

The .690 slugging percentage Martinez produced led the majors this year and his 1.066 OPS was second. He also led the majors with a .387 ISO, tied for second with a .430 wOBA and was third with a 166 wRC+ this season.

Martinez crushes the ball as well as almost anyone. His staggering 49 percent hard contact rate was the best in the majors this year. His 91.4 mph average exit velocity tied for 12th among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances. Martinez was also third with a 33.8 HR/FB ratio.

2017 was a career season for Martinez but it’s not as if he came out of nowhere in a contract year. Since his breakout season with the Tigers in 2014, Martinez is tenth in the majors with 128 home runs. He’s also fourth with a .574 slugging percentage, fifth with a .148 wRC+ and sixth with a .392 wOBA.

No matter how you look at it, Martinez is one of the best sluggers in baseball over the last four years.

One of the benefits of signing Martinez is that it only takes money. The Red Sox don’t need to raid what remains of their farm system to obtain him. Since he was traded mid-season, Arizona was prevented from offering Martinez a qualifying offer, allowing another team to sign him in free agency without sacrificing a valuable draft pick. That’s not the case for some of the other top available bats on the market.

Dave Dombrowski has a relationship with Martinez from their days together in Detroit. He gave Martinez a shot after the Houston Astros gave up on him and saw first-hand as he developed into a star. That could certainly be a factor in Boston’s favor in free agent discussions.