Bradford: You're really going to want J.D. Martinez after reading this

Rob Bradford
November 10, 2017 - 9:25 am

Mark J. Rebilas.USA Today Sports

It's not difficult to decipher why J.D. Martinez is a primary free agent target for the Red Sox. For starters, he hits a lot of home runs, and this is a team that is starved for just those kind of things.

In case you weren't aware, this is a guy who hit 45 home runs in 2017 in just 119 games. 

There is also the fact that Martinez wouldn't cost the Red Sox any draft picks if they were to sign him, with the Diamondbacks unable to extend a qualifying offer to the 30-year-old since they acquired him midseason. And no players, either. Those are good things for Dave Dombrowski

And, sure, recent reports suggest Martinez's new agent, Scott Boras, will be looking for a $200 million contract. But whether or not the slugger becomes the ninth position player to secure such a lofty number is really secondary. As we say every offseason -- as long as there are few luxury tax consequences -- if the Red Sox really want a player, they are probably going to find the financial means to get him.

Still, maybe you're on the fence when it comes to Martinez. 

He is, after all, an outfielder who was cut loose by the Astros at the end of 2014 spring training. And even though Martinez has put up the seventh-best OPS (.936) of any player in the past three years, perhaps it's not enough of a sample size to go all-in to the levels Boras is suggesting.

Well, if there are any doubts that Martinez should be the guy the Red Sox prioritize this offseason, you might want to take a listen to Dave Magadan.

"I love talking about J.D. Martinez," the Diamondbacks hitting coach immediately told when contacted at his Florida home.

"The high character, great clubhouse guy, great personality, always in a good mood. He laughs at himself. You can joke with him. He stepped right onto our team and into our clubhouse and fit in from Day 1, which is very hard to do.

"Everybody knows the numbers he's put up over the last few years and the adjustments he made with his swing and all of that. But he was stepping right into the fire and asked to hit behind [Paul] Goldschmidt and produce. This guy, it was a joke what he did. Just his dedication to being great. He doesn't just want to be good, he wants to be great. 

"He wants to be one of the greats, and his work ethic backs that up. Add to that his personality, his character and his will to win. I've been around a lot of good players, good people, a combination of the two, but what he did on the field and what he did in the clubhouse, I've never seen anything like that."

That description would seem to be scratching right where the Red Sox are itching.

It is known that not only do the Red Sox need a bat like the one Martinez possesses, but they also could use the exact type of clubhouse personality Magadan is talking about.

And it's not just the former Red Sox hitting coach who feels this way.

"I called Wally [Joyner, Martinez's former hitting coach in Detroit] and he said, 'He's one of my all-time favorites. Unbelievable guy. Great player. Great person.' Everything superlative he mentioned," Magadan said. "He couldn't speak highly enough of him, and I was the same way."

It should also be understood that Martinez isn't a cookie-cutter power hitter. There are some unique aspects of his existence, one of which Magadan actually uses as an example of the righty hitter's character.

"When we traded for him and the first day I met him he called me aside and we had a one-on-one meeting," the hitting coach said. "Part of it was me just trying to get to know him and what he needs from me. He right up front said he hits a lot, he does a lot of stuff in the cage. He has a lot of quirky things that he does, some I've seen before, some I haven't. And he works very closely with the hitting coach [Craig Wallenbrock] he uses in the offseason. He wants to make sure it was OK that he was going to film his BP and sent to this guy and he was going to coach him from afar. And at times he was in Phoenix with us. I was like, 'J.D., you do whatever you have to do to dominate. And I'll do whatever you need me to do to help facilitate that.' There are no egos. You hit, we win, everybody wins. So that kind of shines a light on the kind of person he is because he was concerned how I felt. It was very different than anything I had experienced as a big league hitting coach. Once I was good with it and he went ahead and felt better about what his situation was and we hit the ground running. The bottom line is that the proof is in the pudding." (To read more about Martinez's hitting instructors, click here.)

The proof for Magadan and Arizona came in the form of 29 home runs in 62 games after being dealt from Detroit to the Diamondbacks. That's why Arizona general manager Mike Hazen still wants him, and so should Dombrowski

"It's amazing how much he stays inside the ball and he can get to a pitch that's eight inches off the plate inside and get the barrel to that pitch and get it into the air and keep it fair," the coach said. "And forget anything out over the plate. He works on hitting the ball in the air. He does not want to hit the ball on the ground. Nobody wants to hit the ball on the ground. He knows if he barrels a ball up and he gets it in the air, it's probably going to be a home run run."

Sounds like a fit.