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J.D. looking to build off monster 2018 campaign

February 17, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A year ago at this time, J.D. Martinez was sweating away in solitude at his Miami training base, hoping his prolonged free agency would finally end.Things were much more enjoyable on Sunday, as the star slugger arrived at camp on time with the rest of the

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A year ago at this time, J.D. Martinez was sweating away in solitude at his Miami training base, hoping his prolonged free agency would finally end.
Things were much more enjoyable on Sunday, as the star slugger arrived at camp on time with the rest of the position players and ready to do more damage in his second season with the Red Sox.
In truth, Year One in Boston couldn't have gone any better for Martinez. The DH/OF won Silver Slugger Awards at two positions and put up monster numbers (.330 average, 43 homers, 130 RBIs, 1.031 OPS) for a team that won the World Series.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Did you actually think not winning the American League MVP Award could put a damper on Martinez's fun?
For starters, Mookie Betts -- Martinez's inseparable hitting partner -- did win the MVP Award, so that was a victory for the entire organization.
And Martinez, who finished fourth, now admits in a somewhat humorous way that he knew he never had a chance.
"No, I kind of laughed about it because everybody was making a big deal about it," Martinez said. "Like, 'You had a chance to have a chance to win' and stuff like that, and I was like, 'Guys, there's no way that the analytic guys are ever going to let that happen. For a DH to win an MVP, they're going to have to walk on water.' That will never happen."
It turns out Martinez never did walk on water or win the Triple Crown. He did do a multitude of other things, including changing the entire hitting culture of the team he plays for.

"It became the talk in the clubhouse last year and everyone was like, 'The only way you're going to win is if you win the Triple Crown' or whatever. I was like, '100 percent. That's the only chance.' When it came out, I expected it," Martinez said. "I kind of laughed about it. I know how my peers think of me, and I know how my peers thought of me with the text messages I got and the congratulations I got."
Martinez also pointed out that he did win the MLBPA Players Choice Player of the Year Award, mentioning how meaningful that was because it came from his peers.
In truth, awards aren't what make Martinez tick. He is driven by his passion for hitting and winning, which kind of go hand in hand.
"I've never been around someone who puts in as much time as he does to be really good at his craft," Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt said. "While we're on the plane traveling cross country to the next series, guys are playing cards, guys are listening to music, watching movies; he's got his iPad or his computer out and he's watching video. I think just watching him do what made him as good as he is I think helped everyone else out.
"Just having him there to ask questions to and to kind of lean on because he's been doing it for a long time now, I think that aspect kind of rubbed off on some guys and helped us out."

Though Martinez enjoyed not having to think about his contract this offseason, there will be another decision to make in 2019. He has an opt-out clause after the next two seasons. If Martinez stays with his original contract and doesn't opt out, these are his payouts over the final three years of the deal: $23.75 million in '20, $19.375 million in '21 and $19.375 million in '22.
Either way, Martinez can't lose. Someone is going to pay him a lot of money to pound the baseball.
Will Martinez's decision on whether to opt out be influenced at all by how long it took him to get a contract last season or the fact that Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are currently going through the same thing?
"I don't really think it does," Martinez said. "Personally, you listen to obviously [agent] Scott [Boras] and their advice, and that's what they're really good at. At the end of the day, I know my value and I know what I bring to the table, and I really don't kind of look at that. I really judge me on me."

One thing is clear about Martinez: His passion and obsession for his craft makes him perfect for the market he is currently playing in.
"I'm going to tell you right now, no one is harder on me than me. The fact that fans sit there and boo me, I'm booing myself when I'm walking in," Martinez said. "No one is more [angry] than me. I'm with them. I'm like, 'Yeah, you should be mad. That's terrible.' For me, it's never really bothered me because I'm so locked in and caught up in the process that I don't worry about the outside noise and stuff like that.
"Obviously, I love Boston. I love the passion. It kind of matches my personality. The fans, I almost feel like they're just as passionate as me. Obviously I'd love to stay here, but that's not something I'm worrying about right now."
Instead, it will be opposing pitchers who will do all the worrying whenever the dangerous Martinez steps to the plate.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.