One of the biggest free agents from last year, Boston Red Six slugger J.D. Martinez, spoke out this week about the state of MLB free agency. In short, Martinez called it “embarrassing” and a “race toward the bottom.”
Martinez, who signed a five-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox last February after spring training opened, said he expects free agents to be “undervalued” once again this year.
“They got away with it last year, why wouldn’t they do it again? What’s going to happen? Nothing,” Martinez told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.
J.D. Martinez on this new world of free agency: ‘It’s embarrassing for baseball’ https://t.co/x6ArPzGZEY
— WEEI (@WEEI) February 25, 2019
The free agent market has been slow the last two years, with teams holding off on signing players until later in the offseason as prices come down.
Before he signed with the Red Sox, Martinez had been rumored to be seeking in the range of $180 to $200 million for seven years, according to reports from the time. The Red Sox reportedly had an offer on the table for $110 million for five years, which Martinez eventually took.
“It’s embarrassing for baseball, it really is. It’s really embarrassing for the game. You have a business. They say, ‘The market is down, the market is changing.’
“The market is higher than it’s ever been. People are making more money than ever, and they’re trying to suppress it. It’s more of a race towards the bottom now than a race towards the top,” Martinez told Bradford.
“You can go right now through everyone’s lineup and you already know who’s going to be in the playoffs. What’s the fun in that? We might as well just fast-forward to the end of the season.”
Martinez had a huge year in his first year in Boston. He was in the running for the MLB’s Triple Crown in 2018. He hit 43 home runs (second in the majors), 130 RBIs (first in the majors), and batted .330 (second in the majors).
Martinez told Bradford that he noticed a shift in the market in 2016.
“When I was in Detroit, and Justin Upton signed late. I saw it there. I was like, ‘There’s something up.’ As players, we thought everything was going good and on the right track. We were getting paid, baseball is doing great, we’re getting fair compensation,” Martinez said.
“We’re happy with what we’re getting. Then all of a sudden, we’re in this thing now. This is a product of their creation and what they wanted.”
While there are still several unsigned free agents on the market, including slugger Bryce Harper, Manny Machado inked the biggest contract in MLB history when he signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres. It eclipsed, in terms of annual salary, the 13-year, $325 million deal Giancarlo Stanton, now with the Yankees, signed with the Marlins in 2014.
It’s less than what Machado had been rumored to be seeking, but still, its a huge chunk of change.
As for Harper, he has reportedly turned down multiple deals similar to Machado’s, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Bryce Harper is believed to have turned down multiple offers over 300M in recent weeks. at least 5 teams are believed still in contact, tho Philly, SF and perhaps Wash appear to have more chance than SD (just gave 300M to Manny) and CWS (seemed more focused on MM)
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 20, 2019
Martinez said it’s created a market where “losing is incentivized.”
“You can’t say it’s good when guys out there are signing minor league deals and they would be big league players on 80 percent of the teams, but why would a team sign a player when you can pay dirt, and they’re not going to win anyway? When you have 80 percent of the teams trying to lose, there are only so many prospects out there worth fighting for,” Martinez told Bradford.
“We have to switch it up and incentivize these teams to win because now you don’t know. Now you have teams going out there and making a run for it because if they win a certain amount of games, they might get an extra pick, you know?
“Switch it up on them. It’s something we’re going to have to do.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.