J.D. Martinez confident '18 Sox will be cleared

January 18th, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- For a couple of days, different members of the Red Sox have said they weren't allowed to talk about the ongoing investigation MLB is conducting on whether they improperly used the video replay room to relay signs during their 2018 championship season.

By Saturday afternoon, had enough.

The star slugger, speaking at the team's Winter Weekend event, said in no uncertain terms that his team did nothing wrong and he looks forward to the conclusion of the MLB report so he can be proven right.

Martinez was asked how tough it was to see his team under investigation. He didn't mince words.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," Martinez said. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

How is Martinez so sure that nothing went on?

"Because I was in there [in the video room]," Martinez said. "I saw what was [going on]. Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better [in '18]."

Martinez echoed Xander Bogaerts from a couple of days ago in saying that the 2018 Red Sox got to the heights they did because of their preparation -- not from trying to use an illegal edge through electronics.

"One hundred percent," Martinez said. "I've been on a bunch of teams in my career. This is the hardest-working team, the team that studies the most, the team that's most prepared for a game that I've ever been on."

Regardless of what MLB's investigation uncovers or doesn't, the Red Sox have already been impacted deeply by the events of this week. When Commissioner Rob Manfred released his sign-stealing report on the Astros on Monday, Alex Cora -- the bench coach for Houston in 2017 and Boston's manager the past two years -- was implicated heavily as a culprit in the scheme.

No discipline was given to Cora, because Manfred said he would wait until the investigation on the 2018 Sox was complete.

However, Cora and the Red Sox agreed to mutually part ways before the results of the investigation came out.

"I'm kind of heartbroken about it," said Martinez. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager, that I've had. It's going to be tough."

Does Martinez wish the Red Sox would have waited until after the investigation to make a determination on Cora?

"I think it was a mutual parting," Martinez said. "I think it was more so on Alex's side of it, not wanting to be a distraction. I respect him for it. He doesn't want to bring that on us and stuff like that."

The Red Sox are in the early stages in their search for a new manager, but Martinez is confident his talented and veteran-laden team can make it a seamless transition for whoever is writing out the lineup card.

"I've never been in this situation, but like I said, I think this is a very easy team to come into and take over just because the guys we have are professionals," Martinez said. "We have guys who know what to do, know how to get ready. We don't in a sense need a babysitter. We need someone who's going to give us the best chance to win and someone who's going to go out there and give us the best chance and know how to handle our clubhouse and the players in it."

One of the most important decisions regarding the 2020 Red Sox occurred five days after the World Series, when Martinez decided not to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract.

"It's a competitive team," Martinez said. "I want to win. I want to win championships. There's no guarantee that if I do opt out I'm going on a competitive team. I know that this team is really competitive, and this team has a chance to win next year.

"Everybody forgets all the injuries and all the stuff that happened to us last year. Everyone forgets the year we had before where we were the best team in baseball. I definitely think that we can be that again."