J.D. Martinez talks future
No matter what happens, Wednesday will mark the end of an era for J.D. Martinez. He will have officially been a member of the Red Sox for the last five years - the length of a deal many thought would be interrupted with opt-outs or other avenues.
But here he is, ready to play in his 660th game with the Sox. It's been a run that has included a World Series championship, another visit to the American League Championship Series, 134 home runs, .292 batting average and .890 OPS.
During that stretch, only Shohei Ohtani has a better OPS while manning the DH spot, with Nelson Cruz and Ohtani having hit more homers at the position.
Now, after five years in Boston, Martinez finds himself at another career crossroads, sitting days away from becoming free agent-eligible for the second time in his career.
"I’m excited about it, honestly. I really am," Martinez said on the Bradfo Sho podcast. "I’m excited because I’m going to train differently. I’m excited because I’m not just going into the offseason to hit. I’m going into the offseason to fix this, and that’s what I’m looking forward to."
He added, "Whoever believes in me … I mean, the Red Sox believed in me when nobody else did. I think it paid off pretty good for them. Detroit believed in me. I think it paid off good for them. Arizona believed in me. It paid off good for them. It’s the way I feel. I have always rewarded teams that believed in me. We’ll see who is next."
Martinez's next go-round in the open market is appreciably more complicated than when he hit free agency after the 2017 season. Back then, the righty hitter was barely 30 years old and coming off on of the best seasons of his career.
This time, he is living life in his mid-30's, having struggled through one of the toughest stretches of his career. Heading into Game 162, Martinez was hitting .272 with a .775 OPS and 14 homers, having hit just .226 with a .665 OPS after the All-Star break.
But Martinez has managed to reclaim some of the narrative thanks to a September that has included an .828 OPS, putting him in position to lead the American League in doubles. (He is currently tied with Toronto's Bo Bichette with 43.)
And, adding to the optimism is Martinez's belief that he has found a better approach heading into games (thanks to some advice from former big leaguer Raul Ibanez), and a fix in his swing that corrects an issue that he says has been building since 2019.
Martinez points out there have been no contract discussions throughout this season, leading to this point of uncertainty. For one moment Tuesday (while cleaning out his locker), however, he can reflect on what was and what might be.
Honestly, I had a great time. Boston is a great place, a very special place for me and it always will be. I spent more times in this organization than I have anywhere else. It’s been fun. If I come back, awesome. That’s a Chaim (Bloom) question, not a J.D. question