J.D. Martinez

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

The case for going beyond 5 years for J.D. Martinez

Rob Bradford
January 06, 2018 - 9:50 am

Right now, it looks like five years is the sweet spot for these front offices.

Not only does it appear as though the Red Sox are valuing J.D. Martinez as a player worthy of a five-year deal, but according to FanRag Sports other teams are of the same mind.

It's obviously not the landing spot Martinez's agent, Scott Boras, is looking for. There was a reason the 30-year-old slugger switched agents just before hitting the free agent market, and it was most likely in large part because Boras could point to some of his other success stories. Jayson Werth got a seven-year deal from Washington at the age of 30, as did Shin-Soo Choo when he signed with the Rangers.

Granted, both Werth and Choo could hang their hats on a fair amount of defensive acumen, the likes of which Martinez doesn't bring to the table. But the righty hitter is next-level when it comes to offensive production, which would allow for the kind of designated hitter conversation that would seemingly fit Martinez better than Werth or Choo.

Expanding beyond five years is undoubtedly a gamble, for sure. It has proven ill-advised in the cases of Werth and Choo, and analytic-based projections (like the one recently constructed by Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe) don't help Martinez's cause.

But there is a case to be made to venture into such uncomfortable territory.

First off, you have to sometimes pay for certainty instead of relying on projections. How different would have 2017 have been if they ponied up for Edwin Encarnacion to help replace instead of banking on improvement from a lineup that didn't improve? It's not as if they haven't realized this in the past, either.

Remember, the Red Sox gave a seven-year, $217 million deal to David Price because they desperately needed what he represented. Few were jumping up and down in disgust when the contract was agreed upon, with the understanding that sometimes getting the guy means going a bit above and beyond. And here's the thing: Price was almost the exact same age that Martinez found himself when hitting free agency, with the pitcher sitting at five days younger.

It would seem to me when comparing the two, signing the 30-year-old slugger who can live the life as a power-hitting designated hitter throughout the life of his deal is less risky than banking on Price's magical elbow holding up for all seven years.

There is always a risk. If Martinez hits the kind of offensive downturn Werth and Choo have experienced, that's a problem. But considering the four-year stretch (.936 OPS) he has turned in after some key adjustments -- (which you can learn more about by listening to this Bradfo Sho podcast) -- this is a player that would seemingly be someone a lineup can build around.

Sign him, and not worry about that middle of the order bat for the next six or seven years. Sounds like the right move to me.