By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
One of the longest drawn out off season contract saga’s in Red Sox history has finally come to a close. According to ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, the Red Sox finally have their right handed power hitter, J.D. Martinez, who they desperately needed. No, he’s not Giancarlo Stanton, but he will hit nearly as many home runs and RBI’s for a fraction of the price.
It’s a huge concession of defeat for the slugger’s “super agent,” Scott Boras. His asking price for the former Diamondback opened up at seven years, $210M. In the end, the best offer for Martinez was five years at $110M, only half of their initial demand. However, the deal does include an opt out after two years, and is front loaded so that Martinez will make $25M annually for each of those first two years.
The two year opt out clause is significant, because the new Boston designated hitter will not have to enter next year’s market with younger and more robust headliners, such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski was already active in recent days, most notably signing Eduardo Nunez to a one year deal, with a player option for 2019. Right handed reliever Ben Taylor was designated for assignment to make room for Nunez on the 40 man roster. One more move will have to take place in light of the Martinez signing.
If Alex Cora keeps with Mookie Betts as his intended lead off man, Martinez likely figures to bat fourth in the order. Benintendi will probably hit ahead of him in the three hole, with Devers hitting fifth. Martinez is the only righty of the three, so it makes sense for him to be slotted in between them.
News of this blockbuster signing also comes as a bad news for Hanley Ramirez, who will now essentially only be a platoon player at first base with Mitch Moreland. The former Marlin/Dodger is in the final year of his deal, but could trigger a vesting option for 2019 should he reach 497 plate appearances. This is now a long shot scenario for Ramirez. In fact, once he is offically mathmatically unable to reach that goal, possibly by early summer, the Red Sox could trade, or designate him for assignment.
Finally, the rivalry between the Sox and Yankees will probably reach it’s hottest boiling point since 2004. Both teams will be gunning for the AL East title in hopes of avoiding the one game wildcard. Betts, Benintendi, Devers, and Martinez are all very capable of being 30/100 players. Hanley, Moreland, and JBJ are all very capable of hitting at least 20 home runs. So both teams are matched up fairly evenly.
2018 should be one hell of a year.
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