If slugger J.D. Martinez decides to opt-out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox, will he become a target for the San Francisco Giants?
Finding some additional offensive firepower figures to be an area of focus for the San Francisco Giants this offseason. Adding three-time All-Star and 2018 World Series champion J.D. Martinez to the mix would certainly accomplish that.
In order for him to hit the free-agent market, Martinez will first need to void the final three years and $62.45 million of his contract by way of an opt-out clause.
With rumors swirling that the Boston Red Sox will be looking to shed salary this offseason to get under the luxury tax threshold, there’s a chance both Martinez and superstar right fielder Mookie Betts could be playing elsewhere in 2020.
While Martinez would be walking away from a lot of money, the team’s cost-cutting could convince him it’s in his best interest to move elsewhere to a team that is focused on building toward contention in 2020 and beyond, rather than on tearing things down.
Meanwhile, team president Farhan Zaidi has already expressed a desire to add more power to the lineup after the team finished 26th in the majors with 167 home runs.
Since the start of the 2017 season, Martinez leads all of baseball with 124 home runs, including a 36-homer, 105-RBI season with the Red Sox in 2019.
If the Giants were to make a run at signing Martinez, it would not be the first time the team has shown interest:
He wound up joining the Arizona Diamondbacks at the 2017 trade deadline, then signed with the Red Sox during the 2017-18 offseason. Still, while there was a different front office in place at the time, the team’s past interest shouldn’t be completely discounted.
So what’s different this time around?
Simply put, the San Francisco Giants now have the ability to sign a big-time free agent without going over the luxury tax. They’ll have somewhere near $60 million to spend before reaching the luxury tax limit for 2020, and there is plenty more money coming off the books in the years to come.
Compare that to the 2017 season when they were $8 million over the luxury tax limit without signing a major free agent.
A run at signing Martinez would surely draw comparisons to last winter’s pursuit of Bryce Harper, though Martinez holds the distinct advantage of being a right-handed hitter. That means he would not have to deal with Triples Alley in right-center field or the 24-foot-tall brick wall to his pull side.
In the admittedly small sample size of 21 plate appearances, Martinez is a .300/.333/.600 hitter with one home runs and three RBI in five games at Oracle Park.
The bottom line is that the San Francisco Giants are in desperate need of more offense.
It’s no coincidence that when Alex Dickerson was swinging a red-hot bat prior to landing on the injured list, the Giants rattled off a 20-10 record over a 30-game span to climb back into the wild-card hunt.
Having a player perform at an All-Star level for the entire season, like Martinez is capable of doing, could completely transform the offense.
From a purely speculative standpoint, something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $92 million deal might be what it takes to convince Martinez to sign on the dotted line.
For the San Francisco Giants, that would be money well spent.