Chicago Cubs: The J.D. Martinez effect in the 2019 offseason

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images /

If Chicago Cubs fans need validation as to what an elite slugger can mean to a lineup, look no further than the American League champion Boston Red Sox.

The Boston Red Sox won 93 games in 2017, but meekly bowed out to the Houston Astros in four games in the ALDS, scoring barely over four runs on average for the series.

As such, the Red Sox jumped on the opportunity to sign free agent slugger J.D. Martinez in the offseason. After 43 home runs and130 RBI, Martinez has helped the Red Sox return to the World Series for the first time in five years.

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Although fellow Boston superstar Mookie Betts is likely to win the American League MVP, NESN touched on why Martinez has been touted as the MVP of the organization for how his arrival has positively affected the likes of Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts, amongst others.

Martinez’s professional approach as a hitter clearly rubbed off on his teammates, as Boston led the league in runs (876) and hits (1,509) while also winning a club record 106 games.

Why this matters to Chicago

Fast forward to the 2019 offseason, when two of the brightest young hitters in the game – Bryce Harper and Manny Machado - will hit the free agency market. A number of World Series contenders will be at play to land each of these superstars, including the Chicago Cubs.

And after seeing the value of Martinez’s presence in the Red Sox lineup, it is likely that the bidding wars for each player will be tremendous.

Much has been made about Chicago’s struggles to score runs down the stretch. In September and October, the Cubs had 10 games in which they scored one or fewer runs, including a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card game.

It goes without saying that adding Harper or Machado to a lineup that already features Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez would have an immediate impact. The question is, at what price?

Martinez was one of the few additions the Red Sox made in the offseason, and yet despite having a very similar roster (as well as a new manager) Boston won 13 more games than the year before.

This is likely to start a trend across the league. Teams will be clamoring for superstars that may single-handedly put them over the top and bring a World Series to their respective franchises. And they will do so at whatever cost they can possibly afford.

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Our own Jake Misener wrote a piece last week explaining that signing either Harper or Machado may cripple the Cubs financially, but after seeing just how much Martinez has meant to the Red Sox, do the instantaneous benefits outweigh the long-term concerns?