The short answer is yes, the Sox are desperate. If you believe Dave Dombrowski when he says he’s “content” with the current lineup, you are, to put it kindly, a moron.
Whether or not Martinez is worth it isn’t as easily answered. But in a post-Giancarlo-to-the-Yankees AL East, the Red Sox can easily convince themselves that Martinez is worth the 5-year, $125 million dollar offer they’ve extended to him. Their desperation makes him seem worth it, and that will be more than enough for them. Hell, they needed less convincing when they shelled out for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford while they still had an early-30s David Ortiz.
If you ask me, it’s a pretty pathetic situation all-around. Though there is an excess of unsigned free agents who have yet to find homes, the Red Sox’s only off-season attempts thus far have been Shohei Ohtani, who the entire MLB “applied” to sign, and Giancarlo Stanton, who, at the end of the whole charade, was apparently never in serious talks with the Red Sox? Other than those futile attempts, the Sox’s only moves have been to re-sign first baseman Mitch Moreland and engaging in arbitration with Mookie Betts, who led the team last year with a whopping 24 home runs. Bravo, Betts. Overall, it’s been a half-hearted off-season at best for Boston, and as soon as the Patriots win their millionth Super Bowl in two weeks, the pressure will shift back to baseball.
In 2017, the Red Sox power-hitting was virtually nonexistent. Team leaders Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Mitch Moreland together hit a combined 69 home runs. Giancarlo Stanton alone hit 59 homers and had 132 RBIs. JD Martinez is somewhere in between, batting .303 with 45 homers and 104 RBIs. The team needs to score more runs, and JD Martinez can, at the bare minimum, hit the ball. Current DH Hanley Ramirez had a measly 62 RBIs last season; he left more players than that stranded on base.
So is JD Martinez worth the money? He’s definitely not worth the 7 year/$210 million he and agent Scott Boras were angling for. But he’s definitely more of a power hitter than anyone the Red Sox currently have, and power is what they need if they want to have a chance of taking on the Yankees this season. At this point, we just need someone to produce; Mookie, Beni, and Devers won’t be enough. The Red Sox probably should’ve signed Encarnación last year. Or had more of a game plan in place for this off-season. Or put Papi on Tom Brady’s TB12 diet for eternal youth. But they didn’t do any of those things, so now it’s time to pony up and pay JD Martinez. He’s the water we need, not the whiskey we want.