Red Sox will meet with J.D. Martinez at Winter Meetings
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox reportedly have set a meeting with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez at the Winter Meetings in Orlando on Tuesday.
Dave Dombrowski knows who he wants to fill the middle-of-the-order power threat the Red Sox desperately need but he’s being coy when it comes to revealing names.
It doesn’t take an ace detective to figure out who is at the top of the list. Information leaked throughout the Winter Meetings that free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez is expected to travel to Orlando to meet with at least one mystery team.
Thanks to FanRag’s Jon Heyman, we now know that the Red Sox are among the suitors expected to sit down to deliver a sales pitch to the prized free agent.
After losing out to the New York Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes, it’s no surprise that Dombrowski is pivoting toward the top free agent bat on the market.
Martinez is coming off a brilliant season in which he hit .303 with a 1.066 OPS, 45 home runs and 104 RBI in time split between the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. He led the majors with a .690 slugging percentage and ranked third with a 166 wRC+ this season.
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A Red Sox team that was last in the American League in home runs, 14th in slugging and 11th in OPS could certainly use that type of production in the lineup. There are several appealing power threats on the free agent market but none that can match the upside of Martinez.
He’ll certainly be expensive but an ownership group willing to pay the luxury tax can afford it. After making several blockbuster trades under the helm of Dombrowski, it’s time for the Red Sox to make a splash in free agency.
It’s unclear which other teams will meet with Martinez in Orlando. The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were both scorned in the Stanton trade talks and could turn to Martinez as a similarly priced alternative. His defensive limitations may scare off those NL teams, although it didn’t stop the Diamondbacks from acquiring him in a midseason trade to aid their playoff push.
The Red Sox being the first team mentioned could be a sign that they are the first to have the opportunity to speak to Martinez. Dombrowski has a history with Martinez, having given him a shot when he was general manager of the Tigers in 2014 prior to when the then-flailing prospect broke out as a star.
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Is there anything Dombrowski can say to his former player to convince him not to bother speaking to other teams? Probably not, although the Red Sox do appear to be in the driver’s seat.