This offseason has been historically slow with so many top free agents that have not signed yet, and we are less than one week away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training. This is mostly due to players acting incredibly greedy, and teams not giving into it. I give props to the teams who will not accommodate these extreme demands. This clash has gone so far that a free agent “Spring Training” is now set to take place for any player that wants to holds out through March.
— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) February 8, 2018
J.D. Martinez is perhaps the best bat on the market, especially in the power department, yet he has been one of the stingiest of them all. The Red Sox have already made him a five-year, $125 million offer that he has angrily declined. Now, reports have come out that he is fed up because Boston will not give him the seven years, $210 million that he is seeking.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) February 7, 2018
Should Boston pony up the dough to acquire the power bat they need in their lineup?
First, let’s take a look at players in the past who have signed similar contracts to what Martinez is seeking. Miguel Cabrera signed an eight-year, $248 million contract in 2016 when he was 30 years old; perhaps the contract that most reflects that Martinez wants. Robinson Cano agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract in 2014 at 30 years old. Lastly, 29-year-old Joey Votto inked a 10-year, $225 million contract in 2014 as well.
Now, let’s compare the combined Wins Above Replacement (WAR) between each player and Martinez in the two seasons prior to free agency. Martinez has a total of 6 WAR between 2015 and 2016. Cabrera accumulated 10.2 WAR between 2014 and 2015. Cano finished with 16.3 WAR and Votto with 12.5 between 2012 and 2013.
Aside from Cabrera, you see none of these players making the $30 million per year that Martinez is hoping to get, yet they all have performed significantly better than him in the two seasons prior to hitting free agency. Since Cabrera has Martinez’s most ideal contract, let’s compare their stats to get a full picture of his worth.
Cabrera slashed .323/.401/.528 with 43 home runs, 185 RBI, and an OPS+ of 158. Martinez slashed .305/.375/.610 with 67 home runs, 173 RBI, and an OPS+ of 154. Offensively, they stack up pretty well together.
Defensively, however, there is a clear difference. Martinez has accumulated a -24.9 UZR and -27 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield over the past two seasons, whereas Cabrera had a 4.2 UZR with three DRS at first base from 2014 to 2015. Martinez is a liability in the outfield, which greatly decreases his value in the market.
You may be thinking, the Red Sox don’t need an outfielder. They could just slide Martinez in the DH slot. I think I speak for all Sox fans when I say that no one wants Dave Dombrowski to pay a player over $200 million whose only function is to hit. That just makes no sense. Something that all of these huge contracts have in common is the fact that these players contribute defensively as well.
Martinez is not worth the type of money that he wants. The original offer that the Red Sox made is more than adequate, and Martinez should go ahead and accept it now, because he may not get a better one as we get closer and closer to the regular season.
His eagerness to sign goes up every day that we get closer to Opening Day, and he is sure to give in at some point. Boston needs to continue to stand their ground and not get tied in to a huge contract that they will regret in the latter years. Kudos to them for not budging; it will pay off sooner than later.