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Arizona seems likely spot for Martinez

MLB.com

The free agent considered the best slugger in this year's market still remains available in J.D. Martinez. The 30-year-old outfielder enjoyed a career year in 2017, slugging .690 with 45 home runs in 119 games, 29 of which came in 62 games for the D-backs following a mid-July trade with the Tigers.

The team that has been connected to Martinez the most this offseason has been the Red Sox, who are in need of a power upgrade in the middle of their lineup. There reportedly is a five-year, $125 million offer still on the table from Boston.

The free agent considered the best slugger in this year's market still remains available in J.D. Martinez. The 30-year-old outfielder enjoyed a career year in 2017, slugging .690 with 45 home runs in 119 games, 29 of which came in 62 games for the D-backs following a mid-July trade with the Tigers.

The team that has been connected to Martinez the most this offseason has been the Red Sox, who are in need of a power upgrade in the middle of their lineup. There reportedly is a five-year, $125 million offer still on the table from Boston.

Martinez most likely to return to Arizona?
In light of his report this week stating that the D-backs are exploring "creative ways" to re-sign Martinez, and with Martinez's alleged standoff with the Red Sox, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman predicts in a post for FanRag Sports that Arizona is the club most likely to land the top hitter on the market.

Martinez has made it no secret he would prefer to play the outfield, where he would likely contribute sparingly at most in Boston, and he is said to have loved his time with the D-backs, who this offseason hired one of his personal hitting coaches, Robert Van Scoyoc. Most projections have the D-backs teetering on a postseason spot for '18, particularly with the re-tooled Giants and five-time reigning NL West champion Dodgers housed in their own division, not to mention the Rockies, whom Arizona played in the NL Wild Card Game last year.

As it stands, Yasmany Tomas is currently slated to be the D-backs' everyday right fielder. While Tomas does offer power potential -- he hit 31 homers in his last full season in 2016 -- his .307 OBP and 50 strikeouts over 180 plate appearances last year shown signs of liability. As was the case when the D-backs acquired him from the Tigers last summer, Martinez would provide a much-needed injection to the lineup. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 15.

D-backs exploring "creative" ways to re-sign Martinez
Looking to bridge the gap in overall dollars with J.D. Martinez, the D-backs are reportedly crafting "creative" ways to retain the slugger, which may include a shorter-term deal with more dollars per year and opt-outs, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

A comparable deal was struck two years ago between the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes, who -- like Martinez -- was traded during the previous summer, was a critical part of his new club's eventual postseason berth and hit the market that winter. Cespedes signed a three-year deal with the Mets worth $75 million in January 2016, and opted out after earning $27.5 million in the contract's first season. He then re-signed with the Mets that November on a four-year, $110 million deal, essentially earning the contract he initially sought in terms of dollars and length.

Martinez is said to have enjoyed his three-month stint with the D-backs, and he has welcomed a potential reunion, but only under the right circumstances. However, Arizona is apprehensive about a longer-term deal that could hinder them from retaining star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, per Heyman.

Goldschmidt has two years and $25.6 million left on what has been a very team-friendly contract. Over the life of that deal (five years and $32 million, which bought out all three of his arbitration years), Goldschmidt has been a National League MVP finalist three times, including 2017. He will likely land a much more lucrative deal if he hits free agency.

It's believed that Martinez, 30, was initially seeking a seven-year deal in the $200 million range, and that Boston had offered a five-year deal in the $125 million range. But a report by of the Boston Globe on Tuesday said the Sox offer was closer to $100 million, which may be why the D-backs are still in the mix for Martinez. It's been reported that Martinez would be willing to hold out into Spring Training for the right contract. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 13.

Question of common ground with D-backs
The possibility of J.D. Martinez returning to Arizona remains in play, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, who on Sunday tweeted that the slugger's agent, Scott Boras, met with D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick last week.

The question is whether they can find common ground on a deal, according to Rosenthal. Boras and Kendrick met earlier this offseason to discuss the free-agent outfielder, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. MLB.com's Steve Gilbert confirmed Monday that Kendrick has met with Boras multiple times this offseason, including once last week.

:: Free agent buzz ::

The Red Sox have long been considered the favorites for Martinez, and have reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $125 million. While many in the industry still see Boston as Martinez's ultimate landing spot, the fact that the two sides have yet to reach a deal suggests that the door is still open for other suitors. Arizona, where Martinez hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs while slugging .741 and posting a 1.107 OPS in 62 games after a midseason trade from Detroit, would certainly make a lot of sense.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen was asked Monday where things stood with Martinez.

"We're still fully engaged in the entire market," Hazen said. "We're looking at all alternatives and exploring any way to continue to make the team better. Nothing specific on any situation."

However, as Gilbert points out, the one thing standing in the way of a reunion is money. The D-backs' payroll is currently sitting at about $125 million, which would be a franchise record for an Opening Day roster. Still, the D-backs might be able to bring Martinez back on a one-year deal or find a creative package to make it all work. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 12.

D-backs still in the mix
The D-backs are still searching for a power bat in the outfield and Martinez remains on the market, so a reunion could still be in the works.

Although Arizona doesn't have nearly the budget of Martinez's other suitor, the Red Sox, there are plenty of factors that might draw the slugger back to Chase Field.

Martinez reportedly wants to play in the outfield, but without a trade, he would become a designated hitter in Boston. Furthermore, AZ Central's Nick Piecoro points out that the D-backs hired one of Martinez's personal hitting coaches, Robert Van Scoyoc, this offseason, and Martinez enjoyed his experience last year on a young team that has an upward trajectory.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman also reported that D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick has repeatedly met with Martinez's agent, Scott Boras, this offseason.

Of course, bringing back Martinez on a long-term deal could push the D-backs' payroll to its limits after signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract two years ago. It might also make it difficult to re-sign franchise cornerstones A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt, who can hit free agency in one and three years, respectively. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 9.

Red Sox still in, but planning for alternatives
The Red Sox still want Martinez, but they are also laying the groundwork for alternatives in case they are unable to sign the free-agent slugger, according to a report from NBC Sports Boston's Evan Drellich on Friday.

Per the report, Boston has recently been in touch with Logan Morrison's camp. Morrison, also a free agent, would fill the same power-hitting designated hitter role in the Red Sox lineup that Martinez would. Morrison hit 38 home runs for the Rays last season.

Contrasting reports about Martinez's feelings toward signing with the Red Sox had emerged recently, with Drellich reporting that Martinez and the Red Sox continued to be involved in "a good-faith process" after MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal had reported Martinez was "fed up" at the inflexibility of Boston's offer and preferred to sign elsewhere. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 9.

D-backs may extend long-term offer
While the Red Sox remain a strong contender to land Martinez, the D-backs are talking with the slugger about a long-term offer, USA Today reported on Wednesday night. It was previously reported that Arizona had made a one-year offer to Martinez. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

J.D., Red Sox continue 'good faith' talks
Martinez is not "fed up" with the Red Sox, according to reports from the Boston Herald and NBC Sports Boston. It was earlier reported that Martinez would rather sign with another club as a result of Boston's "inflexibility" in increasing its offer.

"J.D. is involved in multiple negotiations and is pleased with the participants and the good-faith process," Scott Boras, Martinez's agent, reportedly said. "Suggestions otherwise are not accurate."

The Red Sox, looking to upgrade an offense that produced an American League-low 168 home runs in 2017, have long been viewed as the favorite to land Martinez this offseason. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

Red Sox patient in pursuit of big bat
Agent Scott Boras suggested to NBC Sports Boston that J.D. Martinez could wait out part of Spring Training rather than sign a deal he doesn't like.

That could result in the Red Sox moving on from Martinez. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has acknowledged that possibility and will continue to take a "wait and see" approach with so many alternatives still available. Though the Red Sox would benefit from signing Martinez, they do have an incumbent designated hitter in Hanley Ramirez, and they re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland this winter.

If the Red Sox don't flinch, what would Martinez's remaining market look like? That is unclear.

There is little doubt that Martinez has grown into one of baseball's most productive sluggers, but he'd likely be limited to a DH role at this point. The Giants were interested earlier this offseason, but that was before acquiring Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson. Few expect the D-backs to fund a reunion. The Blue Jays reportedly were interested earlier in the offseason.

But Boston has always been the spot where Martinez expected to sign -- as did the rest of baseball. There is still a fit, but at this point, it no longer looks so guaranteed. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

J.D. Martinez