The Elite Swing of JD Martinez


Inside the batting cage, Red Sox Star slugger J.D. Martinez takes crafting his swing seriously.  Martinez has been seen in the cage with a kickball under his elbow facing BP.  He uses the kickball to stabilize his swing.  It’s this focus and detail that has now turned Martinez into a superstar.

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The Boston Red Sox signed OF/DH J.D. Martinez last season to a 5 year, $110 million dollar deal with an opt out after the second year.  Dave Dombrowski, who was familiar with Martinez from their time together in Detroit, needed a slugger for the middle of the line-up.  The previous season, the Red Sox were eliminated in the playoffs by the eventual World Series Champions the Houston Astros.

In his first season with Boston, Martinez posted huge numbers.  He hit .330 with 43 home runs and 130 RBI.  He helped guide the Sox to a fourth World Championship in 15 years.  As the team embarks on Spring Training, the team is focused on defending its title.

With Martinez, the Red Sox have a player who is meticulous on mastering his craft.  He loves to focus on how advanced statistics can help him craft his game.  This passion to focus on his swing and hitting intensified after he was released by the Astros in 2014.

He works tirelessly on his swing, a swing that J.D. has refined over the course of his career.  He was one of the first players to get ahead of the launch angle phenomenon that is currently sweeping through the big leagues.

One way he focuses on his swing is the thousands of videos of him taking batting practice.
Besides the thousands of batting practice videos Martinez, has a bag of toys he uses to help with his training.

J.D.’s duffel bag full of frisbees, dodgeball and disc golf, at a glance looks like someone is ready for a gym class in high school.  Instead, these toys help Martinez craft his swing.  He will emulate his swing when throwing the Frisbee playing catch with his teammates.  

Martinez works tirelessly to get better, but not only for himself, but to help his teammates get better too.

On the surface, Martinez appears to be underpaid and could look to opt out of his current deal.  If he were to opt out, Martinez would be 32 and could arguably seek a new contract in the five to six year and $130-$150 million dollar range.

What happens if Martinez opts out of his contract?  If he does it will impact other players on the roster.  Will the money the Red Sox potentially re-sign Martinez with effect Mookie Betts in the future?  Mookie is eligible for free agency in 2020.  Besides the Mookie Betts situation, the Red Sox have ace Chris Sale to figure out as well.

Martinez can certainly make the case for a bigger payday if he were to select free agency.  In the past three seasons he has hit 126 home runs, twice finishing in the top two in that category.  He has finished in the top two for batting average, RBI and total bases.

The possibility of him opting out is a big “if” at this point.  Martinez has been quoted saying “I love Boston”.  Earlier this week, Manny Machado signed a massive ten year deal with the San Diego Padres for a reported $300 million dollars.  There is a strong possibility that Betts will command even more money than what Machado signed for with the Padres.

Shop for Boston Red Sox fan gear from Nike, Majestic and New Era at Shop.MLB.comThe ”opt out” clause has been extremely prevalent in recent contracts for Major League players.  At the end of this past year Red Sox starter David Price had the option to walk away from this seven year, $217 million dollar deal he signed back in 2015.  Price elected to “opt in” and not leave four years and $127 million dollars on the table.  Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had two years and $65 million left on his deal.  He opted out and resigned with the club for three years and a staggering $93 million.

One thing is for certain, Dombrowski will not be able to sign everyone.  The Red Sox would be wise to lock up both Betts and Martinez.  After icon David Ortiz retired the Red Sox were left looking for someone to replace Big Papi’s production.  It wasn’t until Martinez signed with Boston that he stabilized the Sox lineup.  Martinez himself made a strong case from an offensive perspective to be the American League MVP, but those honors went to teammate Betts.  Martinez was able to win a Silver Slugger award for both DH and OF this past season.

Despite the stats that Martinez will have produced over the first two years of his contract, he will also be effected by Bryce Harper and Machado.  The Red Sox will put a value on Martinez and Martinez will place a value on himself.  Dombrowski would be wise to reach out and speak with J.D. and his agent Scott Boras.  Boras generally doesn’t sign in season extensions with his players and lets them go to free agency.

The Red Sox and Martinez may engage in a game of free agency chicken this offseason.  There is a ton of risk on both sides; the Sox need Martinez’s bat and Martinez will be 32 years old when, or if, he opts out.

If he were to elect free agency, there will be no shortage of suitors.  With the DH only available to the American League, the opportunities for Martinez are smaller until the NL adopts this rule in the future.  Until then, the Sox need Martinez to focus on being the same player as last year and for J.D. Martinez to only worry about the here and now.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

Boston Red Sox 2018 World Series Champs


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Boston Sports Syndicate: The Elite Swing of JD Martinez
The Elite Swing of JD Martinez
Boston Sports Syndicate
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