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Boston Red Sox welcome J.D. Martinez

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Boston Red Sox baseball player J.D. Martinez smiles as he buttons up his jersey during an introductory news conference, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Fort Myers, Fla. Boston Red Sox baseball player J.D. Martinez smiles as he buttons up his jersey during an introductory news conference, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Boston Red Sox have finally landed the big bat they’ve been seeking this entire offseason.

Following the completion of some routing medical checks, Boston has officially signed outfielder J.D. Martinez to a five-year contract worth $110 million. The deal also includes a player opt-out clause after two years.

Martinez has been one of the greatest offensive forces in the game over the past four seasons, though he hasn’t received quite the level of acclaim showered on many of his peers. Since the start of the 2014 season, he is one of just two players to bat at least .300, slug at least .550 and mash at least 125 home runs. The other one?

Just some guy named Mike Trout. You may have heard of him.

Admittedly, the Sox are paying a bit of a premium for a guy who definitely had a career year last year – Martinez slashed .303/.376/.690 for the season, with 45 homers and 104 RBI. And he definitely benefited from a blazing hot tear in the hitter’s haven of Arizona following a trade from Detroit, with 29 of those homers and 65 of those RBI coming in just 62 games in the desert.

Martinez has seen his share of injury struggles – most recently missing Detroit’s first 33 games last year with a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot. But while he’s only surpassed 500 at-bats once in a season (596 in 2015), the other three years in his great run have seen him land between 432 and 460 Abs, which is still plenty of time to be productive at the plate, a fact that the numbers bear out.

In addition, Martinez is likely going to be asked to adjust to a new role as he’s slated to be Boston’s primary designated hitter this year. He has spent most of his time as an outfielder, but with the Red Sox already sporting a trio of Killer Bs (Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr.) out there – all of whom with far superior glove skills – his best fit is clearly at DH. We’ll have to wait and see how he adjusts to the role – some players do struggle with the shift – but a professional hitter like Martinez will likely be fine.

It’s a move that the Red Sox desperately needed to make. The team had one of the better offenses in the American League last year, but they managed that despite ranking dead last in home runs. The lack of power was a real weak spot for this team, one rendered all the more glaring considering that MLB seems to be in a bit of a home run renaissance these days.

(Seriously – according to some projections, not one but two teams are poised to potentially break the record for homers by a team in a single season. And the Red Sox share a division with both of them – the Yankees and the Orioles.)

The Yankees made a HUGE move when they acquired 2017 home run leader and NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. It was paramount that Boston make a move to counterbalance that one. And so they have. The truth is that this year’s free agent class didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of legitimate paradigm-shifting talents. J.D. Martinez is one such talent, however, despite the fact that he might not be quite as famous as many of his peers.

There are arguments to be made against the signing. It’s a lot of money for a guy who hasn’t been the most durable player. There’s no way to know how he adjusts to the DH spot. The team might well be paying for his decline. But considering the market and the circumstances, this actually looks like a pretty good deal. Because again – this guy has done nothing but rake for four years.

Here’s the thing: hitters gonna hit. And J.D. Martinez is most definitely a hitter.

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