Bradford: How this all worked out for J.D. Martinez, Red Sox and Scott Boras

Rob Bradford
February 20, 2018 - 12:40 am

USA Today Sports

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Maybe the Red Sox knew what they were doing all along. Same with J.D. Martinez and his agent, Scott Boras.

Let's start with Martinez's new team. After more than a year of wearing out the "They should have signed Edwin Encarnacion!" conversation, Dave Dombrowski shoved it back in our face. This is a better hitter. A better deal.

Don't get me wrong, Encarnacion would have been a fine option, almost certainly living up to the three-year, $60 million deal that would have necessitated his signing. And maybe, just maybe, he could have been the difference in getting the Red Sox deeper into the postseason.

But this one was better.

Martinez has agreed to a five-year deal worth $110 million with all-important opt-outs opportunities after the second or third seasons. The way the contract is constructed, however, it's hard to imagine that Martinez won't be ready for another foray into free agency after Season No. 2. The 30-year-old is slated to make $50 million prior to the first opt-out opportunity. But that's OK.

If nothing else, the Red Sox are going to get one of the best power hitters in baseball when it counts the most -- during this run of Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts. And when they land on that offseason after the 2019 season, everybody will have a better idea of where the money should be allocated. Now the Red Sox have two years to figure out what the best course of action is to fill in the middle of their order.

So, why is Martinez so important?

It's easy to point to the home runs and suggest that's the most important quality being delivered. But, for me, it's more about what this guy is going to do to the rest of the batting order. I was hesitant to buy into the narrative that everybody up and down the batting order was going to automatically improve without somebody playing the role of David Ortiz as the focal point. Well, now they have their focal point.

Talk to pitchers and they will tell you the challenge Martinez presents. He makes way more contact than most power hitters and isn't one who can be game-planned for on a regular basis. He makes opposing hurlers work hard, and that is going to offer a whole new world of opportunity for those hitting around him. This the Red Sox needed.

As for Martinez, he may not have gotten his seven-year deal but he did keep his present and future in fine form.

He plays on a winning team, with enough offensive firepower around him to get some pitches to hit. And he makes $25 million a year. Even in a market that isn't turned upside down like this one, that's a good haul. And that's before potentially putting himself in position for a raise at the age of 32 when that first opt-out comes calling.

And we shouldn't forget Boras.

As much as some were delighting in the prospects that this might be the year the agent wasn't able to find his big-ticket items their big tickets, he managed to do his thing once again. Without the option of the one-year "pillow contract" due to next year's already imposing free agent market, this proved to be the next best thing. He got his guy paid in the short-term with two opportunities to find what didn't exist this time -- multiple suitors for one of the best power bats in the game.

Few thought that anybody would be uttering the "all's well that ends well" mantra at the end of this one. But here we are.

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