Boston Red Sox

J.D. Martinez will dominate the discussion in Boston sports this week after officially agreeing to join the Red Sox on Monday. And with all the talk of his legitimately powerful bat will come the questions and concerns.

You’ll also hear plenty of Captain Hindsight-level second-guessing. They should’ve just gotten Giancarlo Stanton! They should’ve just waited for next offseason! They should’ve just signed Edwin Encarnacion last season! Reasonable criticisms, truth be told. But what truly matters is Martinez is here now, and that can’t be undone.

So with that, let’s talk about what could happen with Martinez moving forward over the next five seasons in Boston.

Actually, it could be just two seasons. Martinez reportedly will have the chance to opt out after 2019. That could be seen in one of two ways: he will excel at the plate in the Red Sox’ two-year window to contend for a championship (and yes, that’s still the goal), making this a mutually fruitful fling. Or he could melt under the microscope and want out of here as soon as possible.

Ultimately, the possibility of having Martinez around for just two years is a better proposition than locking in to five years with a hitter over 30. Unfortunately, Martinez could also get injured again and decide to stick around, whereby the Red Sox could be stuck with a declining, injury-prone slugger as he approaches his mid-30s.

There are positives to the Red Sox’ signing of Martinez, namely his middle-of-the-order power that the team sorely lacked last season. But the player does not come without concerns. There’s a “Big 3” of questions when it comes to Martinez: health, production, and off-field attitude.

Here’s a closer look at those concerns, along with ratings of 1-10, 10 being the most concerned.

He Won’t Hit For 30-Home Run Power
Concern Level: 1 Out Of 10

J.D. Martinez (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This should be zero, but I’ll throw a token point in there just in case he has a bad slump as he adjusts in year one. But even with a downturn in batting average and an uptick in his already-high strikeout rate, Martinez should be able to grind out 30 dingers.

Honestly, he should hit 40-plus. Martinez has averaged 40 home runs and 110 RBIs per 162 games over the past four seasons. So note that this is not really a question of whether Martinez will hit the number 30, it’s whether he can hit at that kind of pace, whether he can be that caliber of hitter when he’s in the lineup. There’s been nothing over the past four seasons to suggest otherwise.

That being said, also make note of the fact that those 162-game averages in the last four years came without a full 162-game season.

He Can’t Stay Healthy
Concern Level: 8 Out Of 10

J.D. Martinez of the Houston Astros is helped by a trainer after injuring his right knee on April 19, 2013. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez of the Houston Astros is helped by a trainer after injuring his right knee on April 19, 2013. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

This, in my opinion, should be the No. 1 concern with Martinez. He missed the first six weeks of the 2017 season with a foot sprain suffered in mid-March. He missed 40 games in 2016, mostly due to a fractured elbow. And in 2013 with the Astros, he missed time with a knee sprain and hit the disabled list in July with a wrist injury.

The silver lining here is that none of these injuries are necessarily related. You could argue that they’re all isolated incidents. He did, after all, play 158 games in 2015, batting .282 with 38 home runs and 102 RBIs. He also stayed healthy after returning from his foot injury last season and went on an absolute tear.

Still, Martinez’s growing list of injuries would suggest that he simply gets banged up a lot. And that the threat of a major injury is always there. The real question with him isn’t whether he can give the Red Sox legit home-run power, but whether he can do it for a full season. Or more importantly, be there for them in October.

He Can’t Handle The Market
Concern Level: 5 Out Of 10

J.D. Martinez (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, this is always a question for new Red Sox acquisitions. Especially the high-priced free agents. Manny Ramirez, on the whole, handled the market just fine Probably due to being oblivious to most of it and also being an amazing hitter. Carl Crawford, however, did not – because he was terrible, couldn’t stay healthy, an was too sensitive to being criticized for it.

The hope is that Martinez is much closer to the former than the latter.

The Red Sox media, and Boston sports media as a whole, is intense. It will scrutinize every at-bat and dissect every comment Martinez makes. A lot of the fans will join in. Can’t wait to see how we over-analyze Martinez’s introductory press conference, personally. It’s just the reality of playing here, and it’s not for everybody.

If Martinez struggles at the plate, if he makes a bad first impression, he’ll start to feel the heat. Right now, it’s a 50-50 proposition whether he can power through that. But if he just makes his at-bats and hits his 30-40 home runs and is generally a reliable cleanup hitter, the criticism will certainly be minimal. Perhaps even from 2-6 p.m. here on the Sports Hub!

Overall concern level?

If Martinez stays healthy and puts up his usual numbers, the only concern would be whether he can continue to be the same guy in the postseason. He has 3 homers and 6 RBIs in 7 career playoff games – a negligible sample size, but a promising one. That’s what the Red Sox signed him to do, so it’s up to him to prove that any concerns raised are ultimately unfounded.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.