wrong on JD Martinez
JD Martinez is a bona fide MVP candidate. Getty Images

Part of the responsibility of this job is admitting when you’re wrong. So, here you go. I was wrong about J.D. Martinez.

In fairness though, so was the rest of Major League Baseball.

Martinez, who turns 31 later this month, signed a five-year, $110 million deal with the Boston Red Sox in late February. This came several months after his agent, Scott Boras, had told teams that Martinez wanted a contract in the $200-million range.

If you looked at Martinez’ numbers over his previous four seasons, especially last year when he hit 45 home runs and had 104 RBI with a .303 average and a 1.066 OPS, you wouldn’t have thought an asking price of $200 million was too crazy. Needless to say, nobody wanted to pay him that kind of money.

Could it have been the Boras effect? Or maybe teams were saving up for the following winter, when players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado would be free agents? Perhaps many didn’t believe Martinez would keep hitting 40 home runs into his 30’s? How about all of the above?

Whatever the reason, nobody in Major League Baseball was willing to give Martinez a $200 million deal. That’s just a fact.

So the Red Sox waited it out, and Martinez accepted $110 million in the early stages of spring training workouts. There were several player opt-outs added to the deal in order to allow Martinez the possibility of trying to get a larger contract in the very near future, but it came out to $110 million nonetheless. And as it turns out, it’s been an absolute steal for the Red Sox.

At the time, I questioned the signing. While I did acknowledge that Martinez would obviously be an upgrade for the Red Sox if he could continue to be a 40-home run guy, I couldn’t get over the fact that nobody else wanted him. And seeing what Martinez is doing this season, it’s even more confusing as to why teams were seemingly scared to give him a big-money deal.

Entering Wednesday, Martinez leads the Majors in home runs with 37, and RBI with 104. And there’s still a month-and-a-half left in the regular season.

If he keeps it up, we’re probably looking at a 50-home run year for Martinez, and quite possibly the AL MVP award. Not bad for a guy that nobody wanted in the winter. Which, again, is the only thing I actually questioned at the time of the signing. As in, “What does all of baseball know about him, that we don’t?” Because it’s not like the Red Sox were throwing $200 million at him, either. 

Sure, Martinez’ current average annual salary of $22 million looks like a huge bargain. And many praised Dave Dombrowski last winter for “not bidding against himself,” which is always a wise decision. But what if another team decided to offer him $25 million a year? Would the Red Sox have called Boras and offered $28 million per? Would Dombrowski have ever entered a bidding war for Martinez’ services? I guess we’ll never know. 

Seeing Martinez crush the ball consistently all season long, you would think that, yeah, Dombrowski would’ve and should’ve offered him $30 million a season if he ended up having to. But considering the final offer was nearly $100 million less than what the player wanted, I’m not convinced Dombrowski would’ve.

It’s one thing to not bid against yourself. It’s another thing to make an offer that’s so easily matchable around the league, given the numbers Martinez had been putting up. Which brings me back to my initial question back in February: Would Martinez be in Boston had somebody else, anybody else, actually wanted him at the price he was asking for?

He wanted $200 million. He got $110 million. Right now, he’s probably worth $300 million. 

So, yeah, I got this one wrong. But so did the rest of Major League Baseball.

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