What happens if the Red Sox wait too long on J.D. Martinez?

You don’t want to know.

But I’ll tell you anyway, because the longer the Red Sox engage in a stare-down with Martinez’ agent Scott Boras over contract length and terms, the more severe the consequences become next season and beyond if another team swoops in to close the deal – this is a real, not speculative, threat – and the Red Sox are left in the cold.

Because that won’t be pretty.

Nothing personal against the next-best free agent sluggers in the market, Logan Morrison and Jay Bruce, but their track records pale against that of Martinez. Their agents aren’t comparing their clients in terms the Red Sox can relate to best – David Ortiz – because that’s exactly the hole that only Martinez could fill.

In Martinez’ 29-year-old season last year, he batted .303 with 45 homers, and a 1.066 OPS.

Ortiz at age 29: .300, 47 homers, 1.001 OPS.

If Morrison (38 homers, .246, .868 at age 29) or Bruce (33, .250, .815) becomes the consolation prize, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is going to need everything he’s crossing his fingers about – a return to form for Hanley Ramirez, a sizable uptick in performance from young players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts – to come true.

Forget about the howls from the media and fan base that missing out on Martinez would bring. How will that go over with John Henry’s ownership group? They rid themselves of Ben Cherington and entrusted Dombrowski with a win-now mandate that has two seasons to go.

Dombrowski made three strong trades for Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz, but he also started off with a seven-year deal for David Price that is set to pay the starter – who is a health concern until proven otherwise – $32 million a year when at ages 34, 35 and 36.

How’s that contract looking right now, especially if Dombrowski cannot sign Martinez to a seven-year deal that would end when the hitter is just one year older, 37, than Price?

In fact, what if you’re Price or Sale, or most importantly, Rick Porcello, a pitcher with a 4.25 career ERA who has shown he pitches better with a strong offense behind him? How would Dombrowski explain to the pitching staff that when he had the chance to spend the owners’ money and not raid the farm system, he could not close the deal on Martinez?

What kind of statement would it be to Betts, Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. and even Andrew Benintendi or Rafael Devers about their long-term future here if Dombrowski decides that going the extra year or two and probably the extra dollars for a proven slugger is not worth it?

Look ahead to next year in case Boston cannot sign Martinez.

Everyone knows by now that the free agent class available after the 2018 season is the best in a long, long time. Outfielders Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon, third basemen Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson will be out there. So will Kimbrel for that matter. And maybe Clayton Kershaw.

When the pricetags for some of those players start to be discussed, a contract of seven years for an estimated $200-210 million on Martinez will look like the bargain that it does not to Dombrowski at the moment. Martinez’ appeal grows even stronger because unlike next year’s premier free agents, he will not cost the Red Sox a draft pick.

The Red Sox are already going to bust through the luxury tax threshold this year. There’s no sense in embracing a tight-fisted fiscal approach this year when next year the spending targets will be much more appealing and much more expensive.

Unless the Red Sox have another power trick up their sleeve, they need to sign Martinez. He’d be expensive, but the Red Sox can afford him. If they decide they can’t, they won’t just look cheap.

They’ll look bad.

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