J.D. Martinez’s reported offer from Red Sox not as big as initially thought

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This is interesting, both for what it means for J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox and for what it means for this odd offseason.

It was widely reported earlier this offseason that free agent slugger J.D. Martinez was given a $125 million offer by the Boston Red Sox, who are seen as his primary suitor. Many have taken Martinez’s unwillingness to accept such an offer as unreasonable, and have used that decision as evidence that the slow offseason market is more a function of players’ delusions as to their value as opposed to teams lowballing them or not making offers.

This afternoon, however, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reported that, according to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox’ offer to Martinez is closer to $100M than $125M. The exact numbers were not reported.

I will grant that “closer to $100 million” is still a lot of money. Further, it is not for me to say that J.D. Martinez is not worth that or that he is clearly worth more. Martinez is a weird free agent who has defensive liabilities and is not the youngest guy out there but who slugs like crazy and fits the Red Sox particularly well. Maybe $100 million is a great offer. Maybe it’s light. I don’t make commission off of him, so I sorta don’t care.

The point that is interesting, though, is that the reports of his offers were generally wrong. If you’ve followed offseasons as closely as I have for the past decade this should not surprise you. There are a lot of wrong reports floating around each winter, usually unintentional. Yet once those reports are out there — started with a tweet from Ken Rosenthal or Jon Heyman or someone and then sent around the world via sites like this one, MLB Trade Rumors, newspapers, talk radio and back again — they’re assumed to be accurate.

That normally doesn’t matter, but this offseason it sort of does. It does because the conventional wisdom on the part of most fans I’ve encountered is that the slow free agent market is due to the players misreading the market and overvaluing themselves, as evidenced by things like J.D. Martinez turning down $125 million. Well, what if he never got an offer for $125 million? What if this $100 million offer Speier is talking about is super backloaded and only gets that high with hard-to-reach incentives? What if even Speier is wrong and the offer is less than $100 million? What if the scores of free agents who are not J.D. Martinez have been lowballed or have been given no offer whatsoever?

All of which is to say that, as of now, we can’t necessarily say exactly why the market has been as slow as it has been. Over time we’ll know better. We’ll know if this is all because of a bad CBA or a bad crop of free agents. Alternatively, it could be discovered later that there has been collusion. It could be a combination of all of those things and some other factors For that reason, we should be careful about the assumptions we make about all of this. Including the assumption that a given player is greedy or unrealistic or whatever.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.