MLB Hot Stove: Scott Boras is reportedly seeking $200 million for J.D. Martinez
Boras has nicknamed Martinez 'J.D. Kong' for his prodigious power
There was no more impactful trade deadline pickup this past season than the Diamondbacks adding J.D. Martinez. The D-Backs sent the Tigers three non-elite prospects, and in return, Martinez hit .303/.366/.741 with 29 homers in only 62 games with Arizona, and helped the team to the NLDS.
Overall, the 30-year-old Martinez swatted 45 home runs with a .303/.376/.690 batting line in 119 total games in 2017. He is the first player in baseball history to hit 45 homers in fewer than 120 games. It's hard to put together a better contract season than that. Sure enough, agent Scott Boras is already touting Martinez as a $200 million player.
First things first: Early offseason asking prices are always high. Always. You can't get what you don't ask for, right? Agents start high and negotiate down. Teams start low and negotiate up. That's the way it has been for years and years and the way it will continue to be for all eternity. No agent starts higher than Boras.
Two recent contracts that could be considered appropriate benchmarks for Martinez's next deal are Justin Upton's five-year, $106 million contract with the Angels and Yoenis Cespedes' four-year, $110 million deal with the Mets. Boras shot down that talk while speaking to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:
"Do any of them hit 40-something home runs and hit .300?" Boras said. "You have to look at performance and say, 'Where is the performer who is comparable?' And you go from there. I don't believe any of those performers are in that place.
"It's a very rare place. It's a unique place. It's something that we normally don't get in the free-agent market. I've represented a lot of 30-year-old free agents. Jayson Werth, (Shin-Soo) Choo, (Jacoby) Ellsbury, (Matt) Holliday, (Carlos) Beltran – all of these guys that are at this level, they're really good players. None of them were in the 45 and .300 category."
For the record, no, neither Upton nor Cespedes has hit 45 homers in a season, or even 40. Martinez did it in only 119 games this year. Furthermore, Cespedes has never hit .300 in a season and Upton has done it only once, back in 2009 when he hit exactly .300. Boras is indeed right that Martinez's production puts him a notch above those guys, so much so that he's given him a nickname.
The King Kong of Slug? J.D. Kong? Not sure whether those will catch on. I still prefer Just Dingers Martinez myself, but to each his own.
Anyway, as great as Martinez was this year and as great as he has been the last four seasons, there are two important things to keep in mind here. One, he is a defensive liability, and chances are he will wind up at DH full-time in the not-too-distant future. And two, only once from 2014-17 did Martinez play more than 130 games in the season. He's missed time with knee, wrist, elbow, quad, and foot injuries throughout his career.
Power pays, and Martinez is no doubt going to receive a massive contract this winter. His lack of defensive value as well as his injury history will stop him from getting $200 million and Boras knows that. This is all part of the game though. Ask for $200 million and settle for $150 million, and Martinez is still making out like a bandit. Boras is the best for the reason.