A game of long stares: J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox need each other, but which will blink first?

Gregory Eng

The Boston Red Sox have made their offer for free agent J.D. Martinez, which has been for a five-year, $125 million deal. While Martinez hasn’t said no to that deal, he has reportedly been fed up with the Red Sox inability to be flexible with their deal. As his agent Scott Boras has suggested, Martinez is looking for a deal that is in the range of seven years, $210 million. With no other teams making offers — the incumbent Diamondbacks have reportedly floated a one-year deal — and not many other power bats like Martinez on the market, who needs the other more?

The obvious answer might be the Red Sox, who desperately need another offensive player for the middle of their lineup. Martinez could help their lineup significantly and give them a fighting chance against the revamped (again) New York Yankees. Think about this: if Martinez or he signs with another team, who do they turn to? They reportedly had a backup plan, but is plan b even close to as good as signing Martinez for more money? As it turns out, yes, it is.


The Red Sox have offered that amount to Martinez and aren’t going to budge, making this deal more about their future than winning a championship next year. The Red Sox can be seen as a team on the brink of being a contender and Martinez’s bat can give them that push to the next level. However, with the deal not being adjusted, that means the Red Sox prefer to have more flexibility in their payroll in the future. They will need that flexibility when their young, rising stars like Betts, Benintendi, Bradley, and Bogaerts, not to mention ace Chris Sale and closer Craig Kimbrel, both of whom will be free agents after the 2018 season.

Sticking to the long-term plan instead of giving Martinez more money might be the better move for the Red Sox. His second half of 2017 far outstripped his prior power and contact numbers. Martinez has been among baseball's most productive hitters across the prior four years, but he was also released by the Astros earlier in his career. If the Red Sox commit that much money to him and then he reverts, they have another bad contract like Pablo Sandoval’s on their hands.

Yes, Martinez may be able to help the Red Sox win this year, but there are notable risks. The luxury tax ceiling and major contracts have been a sensitive subject since the Sandoval signing. And with big contracts from those young stars coming up soon, signing Martinez to a bad contract could be a deaths sentence. General Manager Dave Dombrowski isn’t budging on his offer, which seems to be the safe move for the Sox. It might just be the right one, whether Martinez eventually joins in Boston or not.

Get really important news & stuff

Submit