FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The courtship between the Boston Red Sox and J.D. Martinez is easily the longest-running baseball romance of the season. It really is a wonder one side hasn't been jilted by now.
Remember that $125 million, five-year offer the Red Sox reportedly had on the table for the last five or six weeks? Apparently, it was the product of somebody's imagination (you can take your pick between the Red Sox and agent Scott Boras if you'd like) because when the outfielder/DH finally got around to agreeing to terms it was for $110 million, also spread over five years.
The deal is front loaded in the first three years, with opt-out clauses after the second and third, but it is still $15 million (an average of $3 million per year) lower than what had previously been reported.
Martinez and Boras were reported to be in town for a news conference Feb. 23, but they were nowhere to be found over the weekend because a strange thing happened. It seems there was something wrong with either the results or the scheduling of a physical exam, and the two sides were scrambling to put the humpty-dumpty deal back together. So the Red Sox quest to add a power right-handed bat apparently awaits the approval of team doctors.
Like the New York Yankees, it can be assumed the Red Sox have some interest in Manny Machado, the Orioles' All-Star third baseman turned shortstop. But also like the Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies and a couple of other teams, the Red Sox's interest would be heightened next year when Machado is scheduled to become a free agent.
The general feeling is a team sitting in the midst of a tough pennant race might be more willing to pull the trigger on a trade that would involve at least one blue-chip prospect than any team is willing to do before the start of a 162-game schedule. In the meantime, the Orioles have three months to decide if they are one of teams involved in a race.
One quick observation on O's prospect Ryan Mountcastle: If he's going to eventually be a third-baseman in the major leagues, he will have to play much shallower than Machado did during his time there. One of Machado's great strengths as a third baseman was a cannon-like arm that allowed him to play the deepest third base in the game, while still allowing time to field the slow-hit ball in front of him.
Few players have Machado's arm strength, and Mountcastle definitely isn't one of them, and he's going to have to play the position accordingly. He has struggled with his throwing (he had an error on a throw here Feb. 25) thus far, but it's not necessarily a lost cause, at least not before more minor league schooling. The kid has a quick bat and is going to hit for power, so he'll get every chance to find a position other than "bat."
The Orioles' exhibition schedule is in only its fourth day, and there's already been a split-squad, day-night double-header and two road trips.
Even though the two road games have included only one genuine starter (Chris Davis in Clearwater, Fla., Feb. 24) it's safe to say the Orioles' hitters are behind the pitchers. It's also safe to say if that trend continues it'll be a long spring/summer/fall.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo credit: Courtesy of Patrick Cavey