Fantasy Spin: J.D. Martinez Signs with Boston Red Sox

By Matt Johnson on Monday, February 19th 2018
Fantasy Spin: J.D. Martinez Signs with Boston Red Sox

After months of speculation and back and forth between teams, the top hitter on the free agent market found himself a home. On Monday, outfielder J.D. Martinez agreed to a five-year, $110 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the teams were close to an agreement, while ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported a 'done deal'.

Martinez, represented by agent Scott Boras, agreed to a five-year, front-loaded contract that contains an opt-out clause after the second year of the deal. Martinez will make $50 million in the first two years of the contract and $73 million after three years, when he can opt out of the deal again. Given Boras preference for free agency and teams bidding for his clients services, Martinez should land another long-term contract two-to-three years for now if he continues to perform.

For the 30-year-old, the large payout comes after a career-best season when he hit 45 home runs, contributed 104 RBIs, a .376 on-base percentage, .430 wOBA, 166 wRC+ and a 166 OPS+. More impressive, a mid-season trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks unleashed an MVP-caliber version of Martinez.

In 62 games with Arizona, Martinez hit 29 home runs with a 168 OPS+ and 172 wRC+ over that span. While his time in Arizona also confirmed he is a significant liability in the outfield defensively, his work at the plate made up for it and helped propel him to his new contract with Boston.

While some might express concerns over Martinez being a contract-year fluke given his 45 home runs in 2017 versus 22 home runs in 2016, the power totals don't tell the entire story. 

Martinez, who played in just 120 games in 2016 with the Detroit Tigers, still posted Sliver Slugger-caliber numbers with a .384 wOBA, 141 wRC+ and 142 OPS+. He rated as one of the best bats in the outfield in nearly every advanced category thanks to his 35 doubles and consistent ability to get on base.

In the season before that, Martinez hit 38 home runs, drove in 102 runs and set a career-high in runs scored (93), meanwhile he maintained a .370-plus wOBA, 130-plus wRC+ and 135-plus wRC+. It even served as a slight drop from his 2014 numbers in Detroit when he drove in 76 runs and posted a .315/.358/.553 slash line, .391 wOBA and 154 wRC+ in 480 plate appearances.

Any concerns over Martinez not being able to repeat his numbers should be put away. While he does carry some durability issues, the 30-year-old is one of the best hitters in the game and gives Boston the perfect designated hitter to plug into their lineup and provide substantial power.

For fantasy owners, the move to Boston is the best-case scenario. Arizona's decision to add a humidor for baseballs this season will carry substantial downside for many of their hitters, Martinez especially would have suffered given his profile as a power hitter.

Now he lands in a loaded lineup with Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunez. He'll be parked in the middle of the lineup and hit in the most hitter-friendly division and a hitter-friendly ballpark.

All in all, this worked out as perfect as could be for Martinez, Boston and fantasy owners. Martinez gets paid, Boston gets a power hitter and fantasy owners can expect another 35-plus home run, 95-plus RBI, .285-plus batting average season from the designated hitter who will retain outfield eligibility.

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11
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