Red Sox Free Agency: J.D. Martinez is running out of options

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24: J.D. Martinez /

With the Giants out of the race, J.D. Martinez has few alternatives left. The Red Sox now face minimal competition in their pursuit of the prized slugger.

Over the weekend, news broke that the San Francisco Giants have acquired outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Giants had reportedly been looking for an upgrade in their outfield and it seems they’ve found their man. This is great news for the Boston Red Sox as they have just gained some leverage on their top target; with a shiny new toy in the fold, the Giants appear to be out of the race for J.D. Martinez.

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has done little to hide his interest in the market’s top slugger. It has been widely reported that the Red Sox have been in negotiations with Martinez all offseason. However, the two sides have run into a hang up on the length of a potential deal. Martinez wants six years, while Dombrowski has only offered five.

Some have argued that the Red Sox need Martinez after a lineup-wide power shortage in 2017. On the other side of that token, however, Martinez may need the Red Sox. To date, only three teams have been linked to Martinez consistently this offseason: the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox. Now that number dwindles to two.

Let’s dive deeper into Boston’s main competitor. On the surface, Martinez makes some sense for Arizona. After all, the Diamondbacks traded for Martinez at the deadline this past season and he rewarded them by hitting an otherworldly 29 home runs in just 62 games. Clearly, the Snakes would love to make a reunion happen, but the plausibility of a deal remains cloudy.

The D-Backs, according to their CEO Derrick Hall, are not looking to significantly raise their payroll for the upcoming season. For context, Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen stated that the team currently has about $120 million committed for 2018; a figure that is already higher than Arizona’s $106 million payroll last season.

So, unless they can free up about $30 million, it seems that the Diamondbacks are a long shot to sign Martinez. There are reports that they have dangled Zack Greinke and his $34 million salary. However, while we shouldn’t completely write the D-Backs off, dealing Greinke to sign Martinez would fill one hole only to create another. So who else might be in the market for Martinez?

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The short answer is I have no idea. While Matt Collins of Over the Monster threw some ideas against the wall, any suggestion beyond the Diamondbacks and Red Sox is pure speculation at this point. There are probably at least a couple of teams lurking in the background, but one really has to squint to find a team that might be willing to meet Martinez’s demands of six years and 1$80 million.

The market for Martinez was always going to be limited. He simply isn’t a good fit for the majority of baseball teams. For an NL team, he’s a bad outfielder who will only regress defensively as he ages and for an AL team, he’s a $30 million DH. Most NL teams don’t want a 35-year old Martinez roaming their outfield. Most AL teams don’t have the payroll flexibility to give $30 million to a player who only plays half the game. And so Martinez, despite being far and away the best bat on the market, has few realistic suitors.

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Martinez is a square peg and he’s currently staring at the Red Sox and a bunch of round holes. He wants six years, and maybe some mystery team will give it to him. However, at this moment that seems unlikely. The Red Sox should stand their ground; for now, they are in the driver’s seat in these negotiations. The last thing Dombrowski should do is bid against himself.