J.D. Martinez

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

What held up J.D. Martinez contract? Scott Boras explains

John Tomase
February 26, 2018 - 11:08 am

J.D. Martinez's first order of business, once he realized he'd be spending more time than expected in Fort Myers: buy some clothes.

Martinez had packed lightly when he landed in the Fort last week, expecting the finalization of his contract to be a formality. But when the Red Sox saw something they didn't like in Martinez's medical history -- specifcally a Lisfranc injury in his right foot that caused him to miss the first six weeks of last season -- thus began a weeklong quest to protect the team in case of a recurrence of the injury.

The result was a five-year, $110 million contract that includes protections for both the team and player, according to agent Scott Boras.

Per Boras, the Red Sox will receive financial relief in the final two years of the deal if Martinez spends at least 60 days on the disabled list in any one year or 120 days cumulative because of the foot injury. On the other side, the Red Sox gave Martinez a third opt-out. He can now become a free agent after the second, third, and fourth years of the deal.

"Obviously the X-rays and things showed he had this condition called the Lisfranc condition," Boras said. "It's healed, back to normal, the question is what if that has any impact in the long-term? And we kind of agreed that it's not much of an issue. From our standpoint, we have opt-outs in the second year, the third year, the fourth year, and we can, we have flexibility. And they have some protection at the back end, that's all. In case there’s a disabling injury."

Injuries to the Lisfranc ligament in the midfoot can be devastating. Former Cardinals All-Star Allen Craig suffered one that basically ended his career. He went from World Series cog to worthless in the span of a year, joining the Red Sox at the 2014 trade deadline as a possible reclamation project. Instead, he batted just .139 over parts of two years in Boston before being released.

Martinez, at least, returned from his injury to post career-best numbers last year, including 45 homers and a MLB-leading .690 slugging percentage in just 119 games. That production led Boras to seek the mutliple opt-outs.

"It was very clear that this player has not reached his optimum," Boras said. "He is really starting to understand his swing and himself and he played in a big ballpark in Detroit and obviously what he did in Arizona was something where if you played there a full season, which basically he did, he would have hit well over 60 home runs. Going into this contract, we wanted to have flexibility to where we would get a chance to really know him and also have the opportunity to be on a winning team, which today in baseball is really relevant because it’s a declining asset for players as to whether you can have that opportunity, so really it was a number of compromises about how we wanted to best situate him for his career."