The Rundown: JD Martinez Signs, Everybody In, Schwarber Doesn’t Suck

Welcome to the era of front-loaded contracts. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.

J.D. Martinez signed a five year $110M deal with the Red Sox yesterday and the contract reportedly breaks down as follows:

  • 2018: $25M
  • 2019: $25M
  • 2020: $22M
  • 2021: $19M (assumed)
  • 2022: $19M (assumed)

Of course, he can opt out after the 2019 or 2020 season, when the one-dimensional slugger will be 33 years old. Martinez made $11.375 million last season playing for the Tigers and Diamondbacks, batting .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI. Despite the robust offensive numbers, the slugger was just a 4.2 WAR player due to defensive shortcomings. As a team, Boston hit just 168 round-trippers in 2017, so the Red Sox have added some desperately needed power.

Martinez is exactly the player the Red Sox need to keep pace with the Yankees and the Astros. The signing was not without drama, however, as the slow-moving courtship has been kindling since early November. At times this perfect match between player and team seemed not so. At one point Martinez was “fed up” with an alleged five-year $125 million offer by Boston.

In reality, this is a three-year $72 million deal with some nice-nice added to the end in the form of a $38 million option. Martinez can walk in 2021 or play the final two seasons at the reduced rate. The front-loaded deal, along with a similarly structured deal between Eric Hosmer and the Padres announced Saturday, signals that baseball front offices are no longer going to pay top dollars for declining years.

“A precedent embalms a principle.” — Benjamin Disraeli

In other words, the money-for-nothing days are over, unless you are Jacoby Ellsbury, who has three years of pine time remaining on a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees.

And let me just add, front offices are comprised of some really smart dudes, man, and not just when it comes to analytics and valuing talent. There’s four years left on the current CBA. Changing the culture of free agency now makes a lot more sense from a bargaining standpoint than waiting until the final season of the agreement.

A paradigm shift of this magnitude will by then be de rigueur and a lot tougher to subjectively overcome, particularly if there is statistical proof to back up the preponderance of three-year deals and newly minted front-loaded contracts. Who knew when the Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood to his three year deal that the team was establishing a new MO for front offices across the game?

“Insurrection of thought always precedes insurrection of arms.” — Wendell Phillips

Cubs News & Notes

Everybody In? “It’s a great slogan,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “After all, we are all trying to be this altruistic team person who puts the group ahead of the individual. That is pretty much what it is talking about.”

Don’t you want those Cubs/Brewers tilts to start today? I will be back and forth to Milwaukee for every one of those games. Yes, I know the Brewers have refused to sell tickets to customers [Cubs fans] who do not have a Wisconsin address, but I still have a valid America’s Dairyland driver’s license. Score!

With heavy heart, Anthony Rizzo rejoined the team in Mesa Monday for his first full-squad practice of spring training. The Cubs first baseman returned from a mournful visit to his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, where he provided emotional and financial support to victims and their families after a mass-shooting incident on February 14th. “[Going back] was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” said Rizzo.

Ben Zobrist has set a lofty goal to play in 130 games this season. Zo saw a huge decline in production in 2017 as he battled a wrist injury. The Cubs super utility player says his wrist is at 100% this spring, but he will still lose at bats to Javy Baez and Ian Happ this summer.

SP Drew Smyly is hopeful to return from the 60-day disabled list at some point in August. Smyly is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

The first thing that popped out of Kyle Schwarber’s mouth when he met new hitting coach Chili Davis was “I don’t suck.” We’ve all seen that the Cubs left fielder is in the best shape of his life, but it’s obvious he has had some life coaching this winter as well.

BTW, Schwarber doesn’t suck.

How About That!

Starting today this section will be split in two since the hot stove is essentially over, apologies to still-unsigned Jake Arrieta. The first section will be called “How About That!”, a tribute to Mel Allen of This Week In Baseball. That will be a daily notes section. The second section will be facetiously entitled “Hot Takes & Syrup.”

Major League Baseball has imposed stricter limits on mound visits by players in an effort to speed games up but decided against using pitch clocks for 2018.

Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier is puzzled by the team’s offseason moves. “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Only hours after the Diamondbacks learned Martinez had agreed to terms with the Red Sox, the team agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with free-agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

Hot Takes & Syrup

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Safari Song by Greta Van Fleet. My new I-94 Chicago-to-Milwaukee jam band. So much like 1969 Led Zeppelin yet somehow entertainingly modern guitar-driven rock with recorded music’s first drum solo since maybe 1981.

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