Every American League team hit more home runs than the Boston Red Sox last season, so adding a power bat was clearly an offseason priority. Long linked to free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox came to an agreement with the player Monday on a deal that makes a lot of sense for all. No player hit more than 24 home runs for the 2017 version of the Red Sox. Martinez, in a mere 62 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks after coming over from the Detroit Tigers, managed to hit 29.
Martinez hit .302 and slugged a ridiculous .741 over two months for the Diamondbacks -- the former certainly possible again, but not the latter. Nobody slugs that number long term, and Fenway Park certainly is not quite like Arizona's Chase Field, pre-humidor of course. Fantasy managers will want Martinez on their teams, and that is why he is a reasonable third-round selection in most formats, at least. He hits for power and average and tends to do these things in a lot fewer games than most coveted options.
After all, Martinez has played in more than 123 games in one of the past four seasons, which is when he surprisingly emerged as a star after the Houston Astros moved on, but nobody seems to be complaining about this. Martinez hit 45 home runs last season, a figure topped only by current New York Yankees Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, and he did so over 489 plate appearances. Normally, the durability concerns would be an issue -- but, hey, in a way, Martinez is like the new Clayton Kershaw: achieve massive numbers over four months and give us the rest of the time to add even more numbers with others!
Moving to Boston really should not harm these fantastic numbers, by the way. Despite the lack of power, the Red Sox finished 10th in runs scored across both leagues last season, with a deep crew of batsmen who reach base. If Martinez hits another 45 home runs, he could drive home more than 120 runs. Let us say 35 and 100 are safer benchmarks, considering the propensity for missed games, but again, we do not project even those power numbers for many players, especially in cooperation with batting average. That is still really, really good and worthy of being a second anchor hitter to any fantasy squad.
Meanwhile, the fact that Martinez will not need to bring his outfield glove with him -- Boston boasts a terrific, young defensive outfield already -- is a good thing, in theory. Perhaps it keeps him healthier. Martinez will keep outfield eligibility in fantasy all of 2018. He might not have it in 2019, but I would argue it is not relevant, even in a dynasty format. It should not stop anyone from acquiring Seattle designated hitter Nelson Cruz, for example, and Martinez is a lot younger and similarly productive. It did not stop fantasy managers from loving David Ortiz. Do not worry about positional qualifications in the early rounds of drafts.
As for others affected here statistically, there are a few. For one, the Red Sox will likely platoon lefty-hitting first baseman Mitch Moreland with right-handed Hanley Ramirez, and based on production, this is certainly wise. In addition, Martinez tends to miss games, meaning either Moreland or Ramirez could step in and handle the DH spot. There is nothing wrong with depth, but do not presume either will surpass 500 at-bats, as each did in 2017. Meanwhile, Boston's projected hitters leading the lineup figure to score more runs, which is good for outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi and perhaps shortstop Xander Bogaerts, depending on his lineup spot.
As for the Diamondbacks, they acted quickly to replace Martinez, in theory, by signing speedy Jarrod Dyson. Remember, once the organization announced it would store baseballs in a humidor for this season and perhaps beyond, it made a Martinez return there not as palatable, perhaps for the player and fantasy managers. Dyson does not hit for power, though he runs and is excellent defensively. Stolen base production is not going to be curtailed by a humidor. This also opens up opportunity for the somewhat forgotten Yasmany Tomas, the inverse of Dyson in many ways, but I will not be going out of my way to select him.