The Boston Red Sox finally made the move many baseball analysts thought they would going into the offseason. That was signing free agent J.D. Martinez to bolster their offensive power.
They signed Martinez to a 5-year, $110 million deal with opt-out options after the second and third year, according to reports.
Martinez hit 45 home runs last year in only 119 total games played due to injury. If Martinez can stay healthy, he provides a big power bat that was somewhat lacking in the offensive lineup for the Red Sox.
The fielding aspect is a little bit more the question for Martinez not really with his capabilities, but where he will play defensively for the Red Sox. Their outfield is young and talented, so his typical right field position might not be a sure lock.
Before signing Martinez, the Red Sox outfield had star Mookie Betts in right field, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, and Andrew Benintendi in left field. That is a very solid defensive outfield, and all three of those players (especially Betts and Benintendi) are solid offensively as well.
Another problem with where to place Martinez in with that well-rounded trio that is already out there, is the fact that their home field is Fenway Park. Fenway is one of the harder outfields to play in because of the different angles, as well as the Green Monster in left field.
Any ball hit to left field has the potential to bounce off of the Green Monster and bounce many different ways. This causes difficulty for left fielders when they expect the ball to bounce one way, and it goes another. For this reason, I wouldn’t expect Martinez to play left field.
Right field is also difficult to play at Fenway because of the short outfield fence, and weird angles with the Pesky Pole out there. Martinez doesn’t have the speed for centerfield, but both Benintendi (left field) and Betts (right field) play their respective positions very well. They have each developed and learned the tricks of those difficult positions, so it would be interesting to see how they get moved around.
This being said, one of those two players will probably take over centerfield from Jackie Bradley Jr. who may become more of a role player. This would free up space in whichever corner spot they feel more comfortable placing Martinez in.
Another interesting option the Red Sox may toy with is placing Martinez at first base. Martinez has had brief stints as a designated hitter, but has never played first base.
It would be a new position to learn for Martinez, but if he could learn it and play it well, it would help the Red Sox lock-up that position, as well as keep their outfield how it is right now, where everybody is comfortable.
J.D. Martinez poses depth and a huge power threat to an already talented offensive lineup, but finding where to play him defensively could be a challenge for the Red Sox in spring training and potentially into some of the regular season.