With the signing of Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez comes high expectations, but will he live up to the hype in his first season in Boston?
Following a brief delay in the official announcement of the deal, optimism has been high and Martinez is “excited” to begin his new journey with the Red Sox.
"“It’s been a long process, and I’m happy to put everything behind me and be here today and finally go out and just play baseball,” Martinez said during his introductory conference. “I’m excited for the task at hand. I know this is a historic franchise and for this organization, winning is No. 1 and bringing a championship back to Boston is the ultimate goal. And I’m happy to now be part of it.”"
But are fans excited about Martinez? Coming off a season in which he hit 45 home runs while batting .303, there should be excitement. However, the team and fans have been burned before expecting too much from free agents who didn’t quite live up to the hype. (See Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo and to some extend Hanley Ramirez.)
Unlike those players, however, Martinez’s five-year deal does protect the team and the player from a long-term commitment if things do not work out. Following medical concerns involving Martinez’s right foot, has three opt-outs in the contract. The new language in the deal makes the signing one both sides can live with.
To make the deal truly worth it, here are three goals for J.D. Martinez for his first year with the Boston Red Sox.
Maintain a positive attitude
Boston can be a tough place to play when things go bad, but it can be a great place to play when things are going great. If J.D. Martinez comes as advertised, the cheers and expectations will grow louder and louder. But, it will be how he handles his surroundings when things aren’t that great that will be the true measure of his professionalism.
Prior to the signing, there were reports that he turned to David Price for advice about Boston. Probably not the best person to ask, but according to Martinez, Price didn’t speak negatively of his experience in Boston. In fact, it was the friendship the two share that helped Martinez make his decision.
In that respect, David Price will be the perfect go-to guy if Martinez does start to hear the boos. Hopefully, he will learn quickly that staying positive is what helps in a market like Boston.
No one is expecting 45 home runs, but if J.D. Martinez can put up at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs hitting in the middle of the lineup, the Boston Red Sox will be a much better offensive team than a year ago.
His production should help the players hitting around him. Young players like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafeal Devers and Xander Bogaerts will have less pressure on them and a veteran like Hanley Ramirez will have less pressure on him.
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Speaking of Ramirez, the DH/first baseman is pretty pumped up about the addition of Martinez.
"“It’s pretty good,” Ramirez said of the signing, via the Boston Herald. “It’s a good bad and at least 40 homers. And we’re trying to win this (expletive). We’re just gonna get better and win it. It don’t matter. It’s not about us. It’s about the team, the Red Sox. It don’t matter. We just want to win.”"
If having Martinez in the lineup motivates Hanley Ramirez to have the type of season he is capable of, then the $110 million would be worth every dollar.
Do whatever the team needs
J.D. Martinez is talking a good game so far in Spring Training, but his main goal is actually being the versatile player the team needs him to be.
With health also playing a role in what he gives the team, Martinez is willing to play whatever position the team needs, including the outfield.
"“You know, to me, it’s baseball, really,” he said about his spot in the lineup or the position he plays. “I’m just thinking about taking how I take it every game, how I’ve been playing this game since I was a kid and continuing to do the same routine I’ve been doing. Whether it’s DHing or playing the outfield, that was part of the deal coming in was knowing that I am going to play the outfield, but I am going to DH at times, too. And I’ll just do the same thing I’ve been doing, really.”"
Keep that attitude and it should be an exciting and productive season in Boston for Martinez and the Red Sox as a whole.