The MLB free agent firehose might finally be turned on. Former Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez agreed to a five-year contract worth $110 million with the Boston Red Sox on Monday, ending an offseason of speculation on who would pay for Martinez’s one-dimensional services. Red Sox fans are obviously excited — they already have shirts made, for crying out loud — while Arizona Diamondbacks fans are trying to convince themselves they didn’t need Martinez’s services.
Given Martinez’s defensive shortcomings, Boston was by far the best fit for player and club. He will serve as the team’s primary designated hitter throughout the year, but can also slide into a corner outfield spot during interleague games or to occasionally spell one of Boston’s three young, athletic starting outfielders. Martinez’s deal is front-loaded and contains an opt-out clause after two years, giving him another chance to test the market after he loots the AL East’s tiny ballparks for all they are worth.
Unfortunately, this signing also robs us of the opportunity to see what Martinez could do in a full season in the desert. He hit 29 home runs in 62 games with the D-Backs last summer, slugging .741 in 257 plate appearances. Instead, Arizona will fill its outfield void with Jarrod Dyson, who signed for two years and $7.5 million on Monday.
While the two have produced similar WAR figures on a per-game basis...
Jarrod Dyson since 2014:— Jesse Friedman (@JesseNFriedman) February 20, 2018
4.09 WAR on avg per 162 games
Signed by #Dbacks for 2 years, $7.5 million.
J.D. Martinez since 2014:
4.74 WAR on avg per 162 games
Signed by #RedSox for 5 years, $110 million.
Dyson’s limited skill set makes him a part-time player — one that has never even totaled 400 plate appearances in a season. And considering Arizona was still pursuing Martinez after having earlier agreed with Dyson, this is a big loss for them.
Your daily update on Daniel Norris’ groin
It’s fine, it seems.
Daniel Norris is back with renewed peace of mind. His groin is structurally sound. Had it checked and cleared by Dr. Meyers in Philly— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) February 20, 2018
Norris went to see Dr. William Meyers — the sports hernia king who performed such operations on Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, among others — on Monday as a follow up from last season’s issues.
In less sensual injury news, Travis Wood’s finger is now intact.
Stop trying to make fetch happen, Manfred
Prior to the Martinez signing, Monday’s biggest baseball story was the introduction of rules to address MLB’s “pace of play” problem. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has implemented restrictions on the number of mound visits teams will be allowed, as well as a reduction in time between innings to help move games along.
While I’m generally for the shortening of baseball games in non-obtrusive ways — I think this is as close as we’ll get to that ideal — baseball has bigger fish to fry.
The most I’ve seen Mike Trout on National TV this year was in the crowd at the Eagles game...and we’re worried about pace of play. #RealTalk— Casey Stern (@CaseyStern) February 15, 2018
Baseball has always struggled to market its stars, instead relying on their own superlative performance to make the game popular.
I’ll make this simple. Mike Trout should be on national TV every week. Bryce Harper should be as reviled as LeBron James. Clayton Kershaw, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Correa should be household names. Baseball has always been even more of a team sport than others, but it doesn’t take much to capitalize on the superlative talents (and personalities) around the game.
I appreciate the enthusiasm — I also think Miguel Cabrera will have a great year — but we need a 14-year-old to explain this new lingo to us.
You have my attention
The second-best headline of the day goes to...
Around the horn
Chris Bosio is already making waves. The White Sox have an extra-volatile starting rotation. Bryce Harper’s response when asked about free agency: “Call Scott.” The Orioles signed Chris Tillman, and solved my existential crisis. The Nationals signed Joaquin Benoit. The Giants signed Tony Watson. Somebody wants to sign Tim Lincecum. Another Grant Brisbee link just because. Khris Davis is dropping Drake lyrics.
Baseball is cutting onions
I'm told Eric Hosmer will wear No. 30 to honor his late teammate Yordano Ventura.— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) February 20, 2018