The truth is surely not so romantic, but part of me wants to believe MLB's stagnant free agent market was jolted into action by the sounds of baseball springing to life.
As pitchers and catchers shuffled into camps last week, the crisp air once again filling with popped mitts and barked commands, maybe both sides of the labor standoff were inspired to finally reach compromise and get back to work.
Whatever the reasons, it took until the offseason's very end – beyond, really – for the Hot Stove to finally kick into gear. But hey, better late than never.
Following a flurry of moves over the weekend, the past couple days have been busy.
Martinez (Finally) Makes His Move
From the outset of the offseason, J.D. Martinez and Boston seemed like a natural match. Once the rival Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, the fit became all the more obvious. So it was no surprise when rumors connecting the two sides began to sprout up early on.
Throughout the winter, Boston and Martinez's agent Scott Boras engaged in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse, but on Monday the lengthy drama finally came to an end. The power-hitting outfielder agreed to terms with the Sox on a five-year, $110 million contract that is more favorable for him than it first appears, as it's frontloaded and includes multiple opt-outs.
With every outfield spot currently occupied, the new addition is expected to take over at DH for the Red Sox, sliding Hanley Ramirez to first base. Martinez will seek to hit the market again in search of a big payday after 2019 or 2020, and he's poised to build his case with strong numbers in Fenway's favorable confines.
Right now it looks like the top of the Red Sox lineup will shake out like this: Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Ramirez, Martinez. That sequence creates plenty of RBI potential for the big free agent signing, coming off a season where he mashed 45 homers in 119 games.
Dyson to the Desert
According to various reports, the Diamondbacks were in it until the end for Martinez. Whether they were legitimate suitors or merely pawns in Boras's posturing, who knows, but in any event Arizona quickly added another outfielder after losing out on the big prize.
Just hours after Martinez's agreement with Boston overtook headlines, the D-backs announced a two-year, $7.5 million deal with Jarrod Dyson. He's not necessarily an alternative to Martinez — very possibly Arizona was interested in signing both — but optically, Dyson represents a strategic shift following last week's news that a humidor will be used at Chase Field in 2018.
Whereas Martinez's signature slugging prowess would have likely taken a hit were he to land back in AZ, Dyson doesn't have much power to cut down. In eight MLB seasons, he has only 12 home runs to go along with a .352 SLG. The 33-year-old's calling card, of course, is his speed.
Since 2012, Dyson has averaged more than 30 steals despite never accruing more than 400 plate appearances in season. He set a career-high with 390 in Seattle last year, and seemingly has a good chance to surpass that total in 2018, especially if Yasmany Tomas has any issues coming back from core surgery.
Even if Arizona's three outfield starters hold their own, Dyson should get ample playing time as a roving fourth, and up to this point he has shown no signs of slowing down, though players can lose a step at any time as they age into their mid-30s.
Souza, Drury Involved in Three-Team Trade
Dyson won't help make up for Martinez's departed power in Arizona, but Steven Souza might. The Diamondbacks acquired Souza on Tuesday in a three-team deal that sent second baseman Brandon Drury to the Yankees, with several prospects also changing hands.
It's potentially a very good development for Drury's middling fantasy value. I called him out specifically last week as a candidate to be hurt by the humidor installation at Chase Field, given his heavily inflated numbers at home. Now he moves to another hitter-friendly yard in the Bronx. Granted, Drury doesn't really have a path to regular playing time in New York, but he appeared destined for a part-time role in Arizona anyway behind a health Chris Owings.
As for Souza, his power has long been tantalizing, and he's still only 28 coming off a breakout 30-homer season in Tampa. But if the humidor has its expected effect in Phoenix, it's a little tough to see him matching his (altogether unspectacular) production from 2017.
Tillman Returning to Baltimore
In the wake of a downright brutal 2017 campaign, Chris Tillman was a popular bounceback candidate in free agency. But if anything is going to get him back on track, it won't be a change of scenery. Baltimore brought back the embattled starter this week on a one-year deal worth $3 million.
Although the O's saw Tillman at his worst last year (1-7, 7.84 ERA), they're also acutely familiar with what he can do at his best. Just one season prior he had gone 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA – a continuation of how he'd mostly pitched from 2012 through 2015. Presuming Tillman was simply out of whack or hampered by health issues in 2017, it is entirely reasonable to expect a significant rebound this summer.
Granted, that still won't necessarily make him a particularly attractive fantasy asset, because his peripherals have never been all that impressive. But the 29-year-old is an intriguing option if he's still sitting on the board in the final rounds of your draft.
Quick Hits: Cameron Maybin signed a one-year deal with the Marlins and should produce solid value as a regular in their outfield this season ...It won't have as profound an impact as Arizona's humidor, but the Angels announced that they're lowing the right-field fence in their stadium by 10 feet, potentially boosting the HR upside of lefty swingers like Kole Calhoun and Shohei Ohtani ... They're both right-handed pull hitters, so the ballpark alterations won't benefit them much, but Chris Young and Chris Carter joined the Halos on one-year deals (Carter's of the non-guaranteed minor-league variety) ... Joaquin Benoit, 40, signed a one-year deal worth $1 million with Washington, where he'll function in middle relief ... Despite engaging in preliminary extension talks with the Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson said on Monday that he expects to become a free agent after the season ... Troy Tulowitzki, who missed much of the second half last year due to ankle and heel issues, admitted this week he may not be ready for Opening Day ... Newly acquired Pirates starter Joe Musgrove said he's not concerned about his shoulder after discomfort caused him to skip a scheduled throwing session over the weekend.