The Red Sox have had a bad offseason. It is not even the fact that their only big move came on the day full-team workouts started in Spring Training. No, their bad offseason is based purely on the way they went about pursuing JD Martinez.
An episode of Friends comes to mind: Chandler is buying an engagement ring for Monica, and Phoebe goes with him. After hearing the price of the ring, Phoebe says “we’ll give you ten dollars.” Cue the laughter.
It’s funny because no one would ever consider that. And yet the Red Sox spent the entire offseason lowballing JD Martinez and expecting that, somehow, it would pay off.
Everyone knew from the start that the Red Sox would eventually sign him. Yeah, the Diamondbacks were considering it but nothing really solidified on that end. What the Sox were really looking to do was make a deal as impressive as the one made by the Yankees for Stanton.
Trying to sign a star player for less than they’re worth is obviously a goal for all teams, but there are significant differences when that player is a free agent, as Martinez was, and when they are under contract, as Stanton is.
Plus, not only was Stanton under contract, but he was under the most whoppingly unrealistic contract I have ever seen. It was long, it was expensive, and it gave Stanton complete and total control over where he was traded to. As a result, the Marlins, desperate to get rid of Stanton and move on, were willing to accept less than he was worth. The Marlins are the ones that lose in that deal. But lowballing Martinez is only a loss for Martinez, and there is no way he would have signed the initial contract put in front of him.
Going even further, Martinez is represented by the bad boy of pro athlete agents: Scott Boras. Boras doesn’t mess around, and that reputation has spread well beyond the world of Major League Baseball. Combining all of these factors means that the Red Sox wasted their offseason on a deal that no rational person would have accepted.
It’s not hard to understand that this offseason did take a very different tone, and that the new trend of “tanking” clearly pushed down free agent prices. That being said, the amount of time it took for Martinez to sign leads me to believe that the cries of “collusion” we have been hearing so much about might not be too far off from the truth.
Call me bias, but I’m in the business of protecting player interests. I know I’ve said it before many times, but this is a market that is operating against them. Withholding their talent is the only move that players have to protect themselves, and I will almost always side with the players in these situations.
In any case, Martinez has finally signed. The deal is worth $110 million and contains opt-out clauses after the second and third year. It offers substantially more money and, likely, greater freedom to regain free agency should he choose to opt out. Martinez will be in Boston for at least two years. Hopefully he can give the team the edge they need.
Rachel Schaefer is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.