Red Sox: J.D. Martinez could have lingering health concerns

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 16: J.D. Martinez
KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 16: J.D. Martinez /

After agreeing to a deal on Monday, the Red Sox and J.D. Martinez have yet to finalize their contract.

J.D. Martinez arrived in Fort Myers the Tuesday morning after accepting the Red Sox’ offer of $110 million over 5 years. However, the deal is still not finalized as of Saturday.

A press conference to announce the deal was expected to occur on Thursday afternoon. While a fallout is doubtful, something is clearly not right. Martinez has a history of injury proneness, and the Red Sox want to be sure that he is spending as much time on the field as possible.

As ESPN’s Scott Lauber points out, this wouldn’t the first time the Red Sox have delayed a signing due to medical concerns:

How Injury Prone is J.D. Martinez?

2017 was an incredible season for Martinez, and he appeared to be in full health before going on a tear with the Diamondbacks. However, it’s worth noting that he was sidelined until May 12 due to a foot injury. Martinez was also placed on the disabled list in 2016 due to an elbow injury.

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By looking at his year-to-year statistics, one could easily assume that Martinez is susceptible to injury. With one full season since his debut in 2011, he appears to have been battling injuries his whole career. However, Martinez was not a prominent hitter until a mechanical adjustment lead to his breakout season in 2014. Any lack in playing time prior to 2015 was due to his performance, not his health.

It’s also worth noting that his injuries from the last two seasons are unrelated. A recurring injury is typically more concerning than two unrelated ones. An elbow fracture and foot ligament sprain are both the types of injuries that tend to linger. If he is like most athletes, Martinez likely still experiences tenderness in both his right elbow, and his right foot. However, these are not the types of injuries that plague a player throughout their career.

What is causing the delay?

The Red Sox front office is going to be extremely careful before committing over $100+ million to Martinez.  Their recent history of big signings has been a bit shaky. David Price had elbow issues following his signing in 2016. Meanwhile, 2015 signings Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval had issues with their health as well.

A delay of this nature would normally be less concerning, but with Spring Training games already underway, time is more sensitive. One can only speculate over the exact cause, but it is likely due to a minor health concern, or some of the fine print in the contract.

  • If a minor health concern popped up during Martinez’ physical. The Red Sox are probably evaluating it further, and may be attempting to add insurance to the contract. When John Lackey had Tommy John surgery, his contract required that he play an additional season for the league minimum. Insurance with Martinez could be something similar.
  • Martinez may just be clearing up details regarding the limited no-trade clause, and opt-out clauses the Red Sox added to the deal. These clauses were not part of the Red Sox’ original offer to Martinez, and were added prior to the agreement.

Next: Will David Price assume a leadership role?

While the concerns regarding his contract should be taken seriously, it is not yet time to panic. J.D. Martinez appeared to be in good health by the end of 2017, and he will be a difference maker for the Red Sox in 2018.