Boston Red Sox 2019 Report Cards: Designated Hitter J.D. Martinez
Evaluating the 2019 season of Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez and assigning a grade based on how his production lived up to expectations.
Looking back at the year that J.D. Martinez had for the Red Sox it’s clear why he’s taking his time deciding if he wants to opt-out. He’s posted back to back seasons as one of the best hitters and would fetch a hefty price on the market if he went into the free-agent pool.
Martinez put up a .304/.383/.557/.939 line through 146 games in 2019 while smacking 36 dingers and knocking in 105 runs. Just an absolute slaughter at the plate from the Boston designated hitter.
Oddly enough this year was considered a down year from the powerhouse despite those numbers. Though his numbers were down from 2018 they were still off the charts by normal standards.
This past season would also see him smack the 200th homer of his career. A bright spot in a rather dark season for Boston. He would also become just the ninth Red Sox hitter ever to have multiple 35+ home runs and 100+ RBI in multiple seasons.
As I mentioned above the big news surrounding Martinez all season long was whether or not he would return to the Red Sox in 2020. He has until the World Series concludes to make his mind up and the sand is running through the hourglass.
It seemed like every week J.D. was being asked about his future and he played coy all season. He often expressed his love for Boston and desire to stay with the Red Sox while keeping his cards close to the vest.
This season wasn’t very fun for Red Sox fans but every time Martinez stepped to the plate it was always a blast to see what he was going to do. Whenever he was in the batter’s box there was always the chance that we could see some magic. His only real negative this season would be his defense.
Flaco would tally three errors during this past year through 39 games in the outfield. If he does wind up leaving Boston this winter he’ll need to find a place that’ll ask him to just hit. If he has to be in the field every night then there may be some issues for that new squad.
This was a pretty easy grade to hand out as Martinez was an absolute beast this season. Even with his fielding mishaps, his work at the plate was off the charts. Though his numbers weren’t to the level that they were in 2018 he was still one of the best hitters in the game. During his time in Boston, it feels like J.D. has finally found a home with the club.
Red Sox Nation has fully embraced him into the family and it would hurt if he chose to leave. J.D. offers more than just on the field actions to the Red Sox as he is often sought out by other players to give hitting advice. Even if Martinez is in a slump of his own his mechanics are so strong that it won’t last for long.
It was a hell of a year for him and he is emerging as a leader of this team. As the season progressed and it became more and more clear that the postseason was out of reach, Martinez never quit. He still attacked every at-bat like it could be his last and gave it his everything.
This is the elephant in the room as none of us really know what J.D.’s future holds. If he stays with the Red Sox then he’s set to make $23.75M next season with another opportunity to opt-out at the end of 2020. There’s always a chance that he and the Red Sox re-work his contract to make sure he stays in Boston for the remainder of his career.
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With his salary already worked into the budget, there is always a chance that the front office can work with Martinez to work a deal that makes everyone happy. If he does choose to leave the Red Sox then he will hit the free-agent pool and instantly move to the front of the line. I don’t foresee many teams wanting to pay him what he wants at his age but crazier things have happened.
He could always hit free agency and then re-sign with Boston under new terms but that leaves a lot to chance. If they try that route and another team swoops in then it was all for nothing. I don’t see his numbers dipping any lower than they did this season as they were still pretty remarkable. I hope he decides to remain with the Red Sox but with time still on the clock, it’s hard to know what will happen.
The Red Sox may not have had the season that they were predicted to have after raising the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2018, but J.D. held up his end of the bargain. What the future holds for the big DH is a pure mystery but we’ll know in a few short weeks. No matter what cards he has in his hand it’s safe to say that J.D. Martinez is a massive component for the Red Sox and their success.