All winter long, Tigers fans were hoping that the club and J.D. Martinez would agree to a multi-year contract. Good news: that deal is here. Martinez and the Tigers agreed to a two-year extension worth $18.5 million on Monday evening, according to Robert Murray of Baseball Essential. A source close to Bless You Boys has since confirmed the move.
Jennifer Hammond of FOX 2 reports that Martinez will be paid $6.75 million in 2016, with the final $11.75 million coming in 2017, his final season of club control. The two-year deal does not buy out any years of free agency, and only controls Martinez's cost through what would have been his final two seasons of arbitration.
If there is a downside to be found here, it's that Martinez's deal only covers the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Many were hoping that he and the club could agree to a long-term pact, though the timing does not work well for the Tigers. Martinez will be 30 when he reaches free agency in 2017, giving him one shot at a big payday on the open market. There is still a chance the two sides could agree to a long-term deal before the end of 2017, but this contract makes that possibility even less likely than before.
By no coincidence, Martinez's contract expires at the same time Justin Upton can opt out of his six-year contract. While there is a chance the Tigers could lose both outfielders to free agency, they will also have more payroll flexibility to pursue an extension for one player should Upton decide to opt out of his deal.
Few could have predicted that Martinez would be in this high of demand after he was released by the Houston Astros during spring training in 2014. The Tigers signed him to a minor league deal with little fanfare afterward, but the rest, as they say, is history. Over the past two seasons, Martinez has hit .296/.350/.543 with 61 home runs and 178 RBI.