After the blockbuster trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, the baseball world was waiting (and waiting, and waiting) on the Boston Red Sox to respond. And finally, after weeks of speculation, the Red Sox have their man.
The Boston Red Sox officially acquired J.D. Martinez with a move that many have said was only a matter of time. Martinez will take home $110 million over the next 5 years (with an option after 2019, ’20 and ’21), but more importantly for the city of Boston, he will provide the power bat in the middle of the lineup that the Sox so sorely missed last season. So, what does it all mean?
Martinez arrives in Boston coming off of a career year, batting .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI. He had a particularly monstrous 2nd half (after being traded to Arizona), in which he hit 29 home runs with 65 RBI in just 62 games.
Martinez is no one-season wonder, though. A career .285 hitter, he’s averaged 32 home runs and 87 RBI over the last 4 seasons to go along with a .941 OPS. In fact, only perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout has a better slugging percentage over that span than Martinez.
While the numbers speak for themselves, perhaps even more significant is the presence he brings to the lineup.
With David Ortiz missing for the first time in over a decade, the biggest question going into 2017 was how Papi’s numbers will be replaced. In that regard, the Sox fell flat on their face. Mookie Betts, an MVP candidate in 2016, had the worst year of his young career, and the fact that he led the Sox in home runs with only 24 says everything one would need to know about the rest of the players. There was absolutely no one in that 2017 lineup that pitchers feared.
The addition of Martinez flips that completely. It takes all the pressure off of Betts, Benintendi, Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia, guys who, aside from Benintendi, saw a drop in their productivity at the plate across the board. They no longer need to collectively shoulder the load that Ortiz left in his wake. The home runs, or even the threat of them, will no longer loom over the heads of the players, because they know that those much needed runs-in-bunches will be provided by their new power bat.
Martinez provides that fear, and that is something to fear in itself. Watch out MLB, the Red Sox are back.