J.D. Martinez.		AP PHOTOSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
J.D. Martinez. AP PHOTO

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Talk radio exploded last Dec. 9.

The 2018 Boston Red Sox season, still nearly four months away, was already over. They were finished.

Why go to spring training? Why bother showing up in Tampa Bay for the season opener?

When the New York Yankees traded for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton a couple of weeks before Christmas, Red Sox fans flipped out.

After all, the Yankees acquired last year's National League MVP, he of the 59 home runs and bulging biceps, for just second baseman Starlin Castro and two mid-level prospects.

Red Sox fans still cringing at the retirement of David Ortiz felt the team should have done anything to bring Stanton to Fenway Park, especially since Boston's 2017 team showed a stunning lack of power given their 93-win total.

Giancarlo Stanton.	AP PHOTOSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Giancarlo Stanton. AP PHOTO

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

The reaction throughout New England was predictable.

The Sox blew it. Who's coming to hit homers now? They'll be lucky to make the playoffs.

Well, patience doesn't produce ratings on talk radio, but it does pay off on occasion.

As it turned out, the Red Sox got their slugger -- and at a bargain price at that -- compared to Stanton, who will receive salaries of $32 million in 2023, 2024 and 2025. The final installment of his massive contract, which he signed when he was with the Marlins, is $25 million in 2028. That's a long time for any athlete to be under contract.

While the Yankees won the back page battle, Sox GM Dave Dombrowski was being patient. Linked to J.D.


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Martinez, coming off a career year with Detroit and Arizona, the Sox didn't pull the trigger on a deal. December came and went. No Martinez deal.

January came and went. Still no Martinez.

Finally, on Feb. 19, with spring training around the corner, Martinez agreed with the Red Sox on a five-year contract worth $110 million.

Big bucks for you and I, but much lower than his agent, Scott Boras, normally gets.

During his first season with the Yankees, Stanton has been good. Entering Tuesday, Stanton had 22 homers -- tied for seventh best in the Major Leagues -- 52 RBI, and a .272 average.

During his first season with the Red Sox, Martinez was been spectacular and a major reason Boston has the best record in baseball and entered Tuesday on a pace to win 111 games.

Entering Tuesday, his 28 homers led the Majors. So did his 77 RBI.

And his batting average of .331 was third.

In his last 30 games, Martinez had driven in 27 runs while batting .350. Any concerns that it would take a while for Martinez to get used to playing in the pressure cooker that is Boston have evaporated like the baseballs he's ripping over the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

During the final year of his contract, in 2022, Martinez is slated to make $19,350,000. Again, eye-popping money, but not for a MVP-caliber player who should still be in the prime of his career.

About the only category Stanton is besting Martinez is at-bats -- Stanton entered Tuesday with 14 more officials at-bats than Martinez.

Martinez ended the 2017 season with a .690 slugging percentage. To put that into perspective, that was higher than any Major League player since Barry Bonds' .812 mark in 2004.

As Red Sox fans have learned in the first 92 games, Martinez is not a fluke.

No, he's been a bargain and far superior to Stanton.

Follow Barry Scanlon on Twitter@BarryScanlonSun