Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez claims the team is innocent of any wrongdoing connected to the sign-stealing scandal.
Major League Baseball is still investigating allegations that the Boston Red Sox utilized the replay room to illegally steal signs during their 2018 championship season. According to J.D. Martinez, they aren’t going to find anything.
Martinez addressed the media at the Red Sox Winter Weekend at MGM Springfield. When the topic of the sign-stealing investigation was brought up, Martinez quickly shot down the notion that his team is guilty of any wrongdoing.
“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with, just so they can see there was nothing going on here,” Martinez said, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
While he was adamant that his team is innocent, we should take the words of Martinez with a grain of salt. What else was he supposed to say? The investigation is ongoing and rumors have hinted MLB hasn’t found much to incriminate the Red Sox. If Alex Cora did bring his sign-stealing scheme with him from Houston to Boston, is Martinez supposed to throw his former manager under the bus by publicly admitting the team was cheating under his watch? The investigation may ultimately prove the Red Sox are guilty but Martinez certainly isn’t going to make the search easy for them.
Despite the reasons why Martinez might not be telling the truth, his comments stand out. Most players have kept quite, danced around the topic or provided canned responses about looking ahead to next season. Martinez is the first Red Sox player to flat out deny the allegations. He’s putting his own credibility on the line by taking a stand against these charges. That should give us pause. Perhaps he really is telling the truth?
Martinez also brought up a valid point in defense of his team’s success in 2018. The Red Sox were a great team before Cora arrived. They won 93 games and their division to make it to the postseason. If Cora was the mastermind of this scheme then clearly those tactics weren’t in use before he got here.
“I was in there, so I saw straight up,” Martinez said. “Everyone seems to forget that in 2016 and 2017, this was a really good team. They won 93 games those two years and then we just got better.
So what factor turned the Red Sox from first-round fodder to World Champions if it wasn’t Cora’s bag of tricks? How about the addition of Martinez’ bat to the lineup.
Martinez chased the Triple Crown during his first season in Boston, falling just short with a .330 batting average, 43 home runs and a league-leading 130 RBI. That type of production will add more than a few wins to any team’s total. Put that bat in the lineup of a playoff team and you have a real contender on your hands.
A hitter of his caliber doesn’t need to steal signs in order to be great. Martinez has every right to be frustrated if his production is being questioned because his manager may or may not have skirted the rules.
He earned the lucrative free-agent contract that brought him to Boston by putting up similar numbers the previous season. Nobody was hotter at the plate than Martinez was in the second half of 2017 when he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had been an All-Star in Detroit prior to that season. This tells us that either Martinez is a great hitter without stealing signs or these tactics really are going on everywhere else.
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We’ll have to wait to hear the outcome of MLB’s investigation to know if Martinez’ proclamation of innocence is true. What we do know already is what the Red Sox are accused of is nowhere near as elaborate as what the Astros have been punished for and Boston’s loaded 2018 roster was championship-caliber regardless of what the investigation finds.