JD Martinez’s slump indicates he made a mistake not opting out of Red Sox contract
What will free agency look like for slumping Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez?
It’s starting to look like J.D. Martinez made a mistake opting into the final year of his contract with the Boston Red Sox.
After a down year in 2020, Martinez bounced back in a big way in 2021, hitting .286/.349/.518 with a .867 OPS, homered 28 times, and tied Bryce Harper for the MLB lead in doubles, with a career-high 42. Had he opted out then, he would’ve been the belle of the free agency ball, especially with the National League finally doing away with pitchers hitting and adopting the DH job.
Instead, he will have to convince suitors this winter that he can bounce back once again; not an easy task for someone turning 35 this month. His power has dwindled at a concerning rate; he’s still racked up 34 doubles but has only homered nine times in 99 games. His slugging percentage has dropped 80 points, his home-run rate is down by nearly 50%, and his exit velocity is tied for the lowest of his career. He’s also striking out more and drawing fewer walks.
Worse, his slump is coming at the tail end of the season, and recency bias will hurt him in free agency. After hitting .313/.384/.498 with a .883 OPS, 24 doubles, and eight home runs in 66 games between Opening Day and the end of June, he’s hitting .208/.252/.312 with a .564 OPS, 10 doubles, and just one home run in 33 games since. 12 games into August, he has two doubles, no homers, 18 strikeouts, and only three walks. His last home run came on July 10. Numbers like that will get him a ‘Past His Prime’ deal, not ‘Still Got a lot Left in the Tank’ money.
The Sox considered trading him at this month’s deadline, but Chaim Bloom’s reported asking price was so high that no teams bit. The way he’s hitting lately, those teams were smart to back off.
Martinez will surely get some good offers this offseason. They just would’ve been bigger and better last year.