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) /


Martinez is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, who to no surprise is trying to inflate the value of his client by highlighting his strengths and ignoring the weaknesses. Boras is rumored to be seeking a $200 million deal for Martinez, which seems reasonable if we were to only focus on his ability to hit.

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Which is why we’re looking at the overall package to determine his value. Teams are smarter now and won’t be swayed by power numbers alone. Power is cheaper than ever to find now that everyone his altering their swing to hit more home runs – well, everyone except the Red Sox.

Superstars need to bring more to the table than power numbers, yet Martinez offers little else beyond that. This isn’t to say the Red Sox shouldn’t be interested. They should absolutely consider him a top target given their dire need for the power Martinez has to offer. As long as the price tag remains reasonable.

Martinez has averaged about 3.6 fWAR over the last four years. If a win above replacement is worth approximately $8 million on the open market, Martinez would have been worth about $28 million per season during that span. We should expect his production to remain in the same territory for at least a few more years, with some expected decline on the backend of the deal. We also have to factor in that he’ll provide no defensive value if he is locked in at DH. An average annual value of $25 million should be in the ballpark for what he’s worth, depending on the duration of the deal.

The closest recent free agent comparison to Martinez would be Yoenis Cespedes. The New York Mets outfielder has compiled a 14.8 fWAR over the last four seasons that puts him barely ahead of Martinez. Cespedes isn’t quite the same caliber hitter but he’s a much better defender. He was also a year older than Martinez when he hit free agency, so it’s reasonable to expect Martinez to receive at least a five-year deal with perhaps a bit lower average annual value.

A five-year, $125 million deal would be a reasonable target for Martinez. If the 30-year old insists six years then it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, although the average annual value should dip to offset the risks of a longer-term contract. A six-year, $138 million matches the contract I managed to land Martinez for as faux GM for the Red Sox in the FanSided MLB Winter Meetings Simulation last month.

Next: Free Agent Target: Matt Adams

Boras is a master of pitting teams against each other to drive up the price. There aren’t an overwhelming number of teams with the payroll space and need for an outfielder/DH, yet all it takes is one other motivated suitor to start a bidding war. I expect the price to end up being higher than my estimate, which means the Red Sox may need to overpay to sign him but not by much. If the price surpasses $160 million then Dombrowski would be wise to pivot in another direction.