LOS ANGELES — For the fourth time in his five years in Boston, J.D. Martinez is representing the Red Sox at the All-Star Game — a run that suggests a player who is quite possibly the best big-dollar free-agent signing in franchise history.
Though his power numbers are down this year, with only eight home runs, he still earned a spot on the AL All-Star roster (replacing the injured Yordan Alvarez) with a .302/.368/.481 line. In his five years in Boston, Martinez has hit .297/.369/.539, with the sixth-highest OPS in the game (.907) and the 15th-most homers (123).
His impact also has extended beyond his personal performance. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers have all credited the influence of Martinez in elevating their careers.
“I don’t know if my career would have transformed without the help he’s given me,” said Bogaerts. “You can’t even express in words [how much he’s helped us]. It’s been so much.”
As he nears the end of the deal that he signed in February 2018, Martinez can take a bird’s-eye view of his time in Boston without regret.
“Whoever invests in me, I’m going to invest everything I have in them. I’m going to give them my best me,” said Martinez. “Boston was the only team out there that was really stepping up and offering me a contract. I took pride in not letting them down and showing them that they made the right decision.”
Martinez said that he’s expressed to the team — when contemplating opt-outs after the 2019 and 2020 seasons — that he’d like to extend his time. But for now, even with the possibility that he’s entering his final months — or weeks, if the team decides to become sellers at the deadline — in a Red Sox uniform, Martinez said his focus remains on 2022, rather than the unsettled nature of his residence next year.
“Next year is uncertain, but it’s part of [the nature of the game],” he said. “I’m not thinking about it. I’m worried about playing this year and trying to get to the playoffs.”
No talks between Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts is attending his fourth All-Star Game. The 29-year-old spoke of the joy he takes in the setting and being among the best players in the game, including past (Betts) and present (Devers, Martinez) teammates.
“I mean Hollywood — who wouldn’t want to be here?” said Bogaerts. “It’s very special.”
Bogaerts tried to avoid letting the shadow of the future cloud the occasion, suggesting he wasn’t giving thought to his contract opt-out — while also saying that he had no expectations that the Red Sox would make any attempt to negotiate an extension with him before the end of the season.
“At this point we haven’t had [any conversations about a contract during the season], so I wouldn’t even put much thought into that,” said Bogaerts. “If we haven’t had anything up to this point, then I’m not assuming anything will happen because it hasn’t so far.”
No recent contract talks for Xander Bogaerts with the Sox, "No, no," he said. I asked if he would entertain talks at this point or prefer to deal with it at the end of the season. "That's a tough question," he said. "But I mean as I said at this point we haven’t had anything..." pic.twitter.com/KckwYRBv5v— Christopher Gasper (@cgasper) July 18, 2022
However, Bogaerts’ agent, Scott Boras, did not summarily dismiss the idea of in-season talks.
“My ears are always open,” said Boras, who noted the difficulty the Sox would face in replacing a player of Bogaerts’ championship experience, leadership, and ability. “I meet with the owners a lot. There’s nothing that prevents them from talking to me or me talking to him.”
Aces on tap
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker tabbed lefthander Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.13 ERA) to start the All-Star Game in his home park of Dodger Stadium. “I think it’s just perfect that he start this game,” said Snitker, who installed Betts No. 2 in the lineup. Kershaw expressed delight in the assignment, even as he noted his belief that others were more deserving of the honor. “It’s hard, because obviously Sandy Alcantara, Tony Gonsolin, Max Fried, all these guys have better numbers than I do,” said Kershaw. “All that said, I’m just so excited I get to do it here at Dodger Stadium.” Astros manager Dusty Baker named Rays lefthander Shane McClanahan the American League starter — though did so with an admission. “Tell you the truth, I’ve never seen him pitch,” Baker said to laughter. “We didn’t play him at all this year, but everybody that I’ve talked to told me that he is nasty.” McClanahan (10-3, 1.71 ERA) took Baker’s confession in stride. “It’s truly just an honor for me to take the ball and have Dusty see me pitch for the first time,” said McClanahan . . . Baker tabbed Devers to hit third. The third baseman seemed sheepish in the face of recent praise from all-time greats David Ortiz — who said that watching Devers is like seeing himself play again — and Adrián Beltré, who declared that Devers is already better than he was. “I don’t know if I’m as good as Beltré. He’s absolutely a legend and someone that I’ve always looked up to,” said Devers through translator Bryan Loor-Almonte. “And obviously, David, we know how I feel about him. … They’re two guys that I really look up to and always have, so it’s good to have them on my side” . . . Both Bogaerts and Martinez will participate in the game as reserves . . . Baker said that he was informed that Shohei Ohtani was not available to pitch.
Christopher L. Gasper contributed to this report.