One of the best hitters on this year's free-agent market is on his way to the Winter Meetings to advocate for himself.A source confirmed to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that slugger J.D. Martinez traveled to the 2017 Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Tuesday evening alongside agent Scott Boras
One of the best hitters on this year's free-agent market is on his way to the Winter Meetings to advocate for himself.
A source confirmed to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that slugger J.D. Martinez traveled to the 2017 Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Tuesday evening alongside agent Scott Boras to meet with individual clubs. That list of teams reportedly includes the Red Sox, who have been linked to Martinez frequently since the offseason began. Boston's interest in Martinez is thought to be high in the wake of the rival Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, and it is widely expected that the Red Sox will make a big move in response.
The Cardinals and Giants, who were the most aggressive teams in courting Stanton before he ultimately rejected trades to both destinations, also figure to be among the most likely teams to meet with Martinez besides the Red Sox. Both teams are looking to acquire impact bats and have the available finances.
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Martinez, 30, figures to command one of the larger free-agent contracts this offseason, but he also comes without the baggage of a qualifying offer. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, players who turn down one-year qualifying offers from their clubs have compensation attached to them in the form of either a first- or second-round Draft pick (depending on the original club's status in regards to revenue sharing) as well as international bonus pool money. Martinez doesn't carry any of those considerations since he was traded by the Tigers to the D-backs in the middle of the 2017 season.
Though there are concerns about how Martinez's outfield defense will sustain as he ages, he brings a wealth of hitting acumen to the table, and he figures to display his passion for hitting in any face-to-face meeting with potential suitors. Only three players -- Stanton, Michael Trout and Joey Votto -- have posted a higher OPS+ over the past four seasons than Martinez (minimum 1,500 plate appearances). According to Statcast™, only Aaron Judge averaged more barrels (or balls hit with optimal combinations of exit velocity and launch angle, typically leading to extra-base hits) per plate appearance than Martinez among qualified players in 2017. Martinez's 19 home runs to the opposite field were also the most, per Statcast™, of any player -- left- or right-handed.
Martinez hit 29 home runs for the D-backs alone after he was traded on July 18, setting a record for the most hit by any player who debuted with a new team on or after July 1. Alongside Eric Hosmer, Martinez is seen as the top power hitter still on the board this offseason.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.