J.D. Martinez’s message is loud and clear, backed up by home runs, exit velocity and launch angle: He was worth the money.
Martinez entered last offseason as one of the top free agents after a four-season run as one of the game’s top hitters and coming off a monster 2017 campaign with the Tigers and Diamondbacks in which he hit 45 home runs and slugged .690 in 119 games.
He remained unsigned through the winter meetings and through January and into February. Finally, after spring training had already started, Martinez landed in Boston where everyone had predicted, giving the Red Sox the power bat they needed after finishing last in the American League in home runs in 2017. He signed a five-year, $110 million contract on Feb. 26, and while it took him seven games before he hit his first home run, he hasn’t stopped mashing since.
Martinez was entering his age-30 season. Too risky for a long-term, nine-figure contract suggested some critics, pointing to some of the free-agent busts in recent years who signed deals that took them into their mid-30s. The market also hasn’t been kind to corner outfielders and first base/DH types in recent years and some teams might have felt Martinez was limited to a DH role — if not now, then certainly within a couple of years.
One source said Winston could be notified as early as Friday, but others think it will be handed down sometime in the next week, per sources. An appeal could be discussed, but they have proven to be largely fruitless in the past, most recently with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was suspended six games last August.
Winston would lose $124,000 in base salary for a three-game suspension because his base salary is only $705,000 this season. His base salary for next season is scheduled to be over $20.9 million, reducing the chance he would consider appealing this three-game suspension.
NFL investigator Lisa Friel helped spearhead the investigation that would see the suspension of another NFL star.
ESPN Tallahassee host Jeff Cameron initially reported this week on his talk show that Winston was bracing to be suspended.
Although the alleged incident occurred in March 2016, it did not surface until BuzzFeed reported the accusation in November 2017. The NFL initiated its investigation — with Friel at the forefront of it — and the Buccaneers have been waiting to hear from the league.
The league began its investigation in November 2017 when a woman, who identified herself as Kate, told BuzzFeed that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch while waiting at a drive-thru at Los Betos Mexican Food at 2 a.m.