Martinez’s contract will be heavily front-loaded, guaranteeing him $50 million in the first two seasons before the first of two opt-out clauses. The structure is similar to another deal negotiated in recent days by Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, who matched Eric Hosmer with the San Diego Padres. Hosmer got an eight-year, $144 million deal, but can opt out after earning $110 million in the first five years.
That kind of arrangement could start to catch on, as a way for players to earn high salaries for the years in which they are likely to perform best. If they continue to play well, they could opt out and hit the open market again. If they stay for the full term, their teams would lower salaries for their declining seasons.
Martinez, Hosmer and starter Yu Darvish (six years, $126 million with the Chicago Cubs) have signed nine-figure contracts in past 10 days, possibly quelling some anxiety within the players’ association.
The union has been furious about a slow-moving free agent market, but with all spring training camps now open for pitchers and position players, more and more free agents are signing every day. As soon as they lost out on Martinez, the Diamondbacks reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the speedy Jarrod Dyson, a much different type of outfielder than Martinez.
In Boston, Martinez will probably get most of his starts as the designated hitter, though he could fill in for an outfielder now and then. The Red Sox expect to use Hanley Ramirez, their regular D.H. last season, in a platoon at first base with Mitch Moreland.