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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.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.