Amid conspiracy theories about the collusion of MLB teams not signing players as to lower their free agent value, it seems outlandish that the Toronto Blue Jays wouldn’t be involved in talks with J.D. Martinez.
Whatever the reason for the slow offseason, the monetary benefit for teams seems clear. Just this week, the New York Mets and Jay Bruce finalized a three-year, $39 million contract. The news was in stark contrast to that from the beginning of the offseason when Bruce was reportedly seeking a five-year, $80-$90 million contract.
J.D. Martinez appears to be experiencing a similar fall in value. On the same day the Bruce report broke, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN similarly tweeted that Martinez was looking for a deal close to $200 million.
And on Wednesday, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that the Boston Red Sox offered J.D. Martinez a deal close to five-years and $100 million — half of what Martinez was looking for at the start of the offseason.
With Martinez’s decreased value, why aren’t the Blue Jays in on talks with the outfielder?
His addition would make logical sense for Toronto, especially when considering the signing of Curtis Granderson as a fourth outfielder to nearly complete the Toronto 2018 outfield. Martinez, who will turn 31 in August of this year, played nearly all of his 119 games in 2017 in the outfield with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
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In one of the best seasons of his career, Martinez was worth 4.1 WAR. He batted .303 and had an on-base percentage of .376 in his nearly 500 plate appearances, striking out 128 times and walking 53 times.
Despite the slow offseason, or perhaps because of it, the Jays have not been rumoured to be involved in J.D. Martinez talks since November. On November 20th, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports hinted that the Blue Jays could find themselves involved with the free agent.
“While the Blue Jays may not consider themselves a favorite for Martinez,” Heyman wrote, “he fits their need for a corner outfielder and they have at least considered him.”
Since then, little, if anything, has indicated their involvement in Martinez’s market.
The initial argument against the Jays signing Martinez oriented around his cost, but with his asking price halved, no reason remains for Toronto to not at least attempt signing the free agent. Although the influence of a larger market (such as Boston) may ultimately pull Martinez out of the Blue Jays’ grasp, the allure of a team-friendly deal on one of the best free agents on the market should drive the Blue Jays to insert themselves into the conversation — even if it yields no rewards.