Bradford: Who thought J.D. was going to be this good? Scott Boras, that's who

Rob Bradford
June 28, 2018 - 8:42 am

USA Today Sports


Scott Boras was just arriving at Dodger Stadium Wednesday, having just finished lunch with a few of his Cubs clients, when he received the news. J.D. Martinez just hit his 25th home run.

This was the latest round of vindication.

"We’re not at all surprised that he got his 25th home run. When you’re doing something historic in a historic place, now you know King Kong is sitting on that Green Monster," Boras told in a phone interview.

The brief story of Martinez in Boston is starting to amaze some. With his blast against the Angels, the outfielder/designated hitter became the first Red Sox player to hit as many as 25 homers before July 1. He has come better than advertised. Don't blame Boras. He tried offering a warning, starting with the "King Kong of Slug" moniker that might have seemed campy at first, but now offers a perfect fit.

"I said once King Kong gets on the Green Monster, they’re going to understand it," Boras said. "When I was looking to separate him, I thought about Boston and New York and thought about the Empire State Building and I thought of the King of Kong of Slug."

And that was and has been the key -- separating Martinez.

It was easy to look at what the slugger had done over the past few years and suggest he was somewhat of an aberration. Martinez was coming off a season in which he hit 45 homers in just 119 games, which seemed like a logical stepping stone after two breakout seasons in Detroit. Still, a sell job was needed, both for potentially interested teams and for the player himself.

That's where Boras came in.

"When I began representing him I told him, ‘Do you realize your value is grossly unappraised in this industry, so I’m going to have to structure a contract to what your value is truly going to be in the future and put together a process where intellectually where we can provide the evidence where you’re headed,’" the agent explained. "I said, ‘Because you had just one season where you had more than 123 games in your career, it’s very clear to me where you’re headed and I want the contract to account for that so we can properly represent you in a fashion that is in accordance to your value today and in the future. And that’s going to require some stepping stone models.’ I explained to him how I invented the opt-out with ARod way back when.

"I explained to him how I was going to use the 'King Kong of Slug.' He laughed. I said, ‘This where you’re at. People don’t get the .690 slugging. That is territory that is wholly beyond major league norm. You’re talking about some of the greats game. When you get to .690 you’re extraordinary. And you’re doing this while maintaining an average and an OPS that exceeds the thousands. You’re a great hitter and a great slugger and you’re a category on to your self with your skill-set.’ He kind of looked at me like nobody had ever explained that to him. The modesty was there.

"I said, ‘I’m not projecting. I have conclusive evidence for 120 games that you have a .690 slug. People just don’t get that.’ This guy is the picture of slugging. You have (Mike) Trout and (Bryce Harper) Harp and all the guys who are in the elite. But when you’ve exceeded what they do in the slugging category … I think the realization of that began to foster."

And while some may view Boras' proclamations as agent hyperbole, the contract he and Martinez landed on suggests there was a willingness to bet on the future.

The first three years of the 30-year-old's five-year deal pays him $23.75 million per season. After that, however, the number drops to $19.375 million. Why? Because the thought is that he will never get to those final few years with opt-outs after both the second and third seasons. The way things are going, by the time the conclusion of that second year in Boston rolls around there won't be a need for nicknames.

The case that Boras attempted to smack teams in the face with this past offseason has become pretty convincing.

"Because J.D. did this in Detroit and Arizona there wasn’t the fan base or the media to really accentuate the accomplishments," the agent said.

"As great as he is on the field I tell every young player about J.D. Martinez is who he is as a complete package of a player because there is no one who works harder. No matter what he does the day before, he is waking up with a burning desire to go through his routine and achieve his route, study his film, getting up and taking BP. Even on the road at 10 or 11 a.m. he’s getting his swings. It works for him. Maybe it’s different for others. But the discipline for his personal routine is something I talk about with every young player because it is a man who didn’t thrive off of statistics. Failure or success does not in any way get in the way of his routine."

In short, as Boras explains it, "This is that song, ‘The best is yet to come.’ In the back of my mind this is how it will be looked at."

Now, he's not alone.

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