The Boston Red Sox may have an interesting contract decision regarding the opt-out provision for J.D. Martinez. Just what are the possible outcomes?
Baseball contracts are in a constant state of flux as new and exotic methods are implemented to make a player and his agents comfortable to sign the line and instantaneously become a multi-millionaire. Nothing new since contracts have long had clauses embedded within that rewarded players for reaching certain performance goals. In another age, it was not unusual for a contract to be shredded and a new one bestowed upon a player for a remarkable achievement such as tossing a no-hitter. A quick thousand dollar raise.
Contracts often have an escape clause and a baseball contract is no exception. The idea is one of protection – I will pursue this from a player’s point of view. Two significant reasons are: “I hate it here and made a tragic mistake” or “I deserve more dough.”
The Boston Red Sox had one high-profile opt-out in David Price. Price signed a seven-year deal for an exorbitant $217 million. Price’s stay in Boston has been an emotional roller coaster with injuries, questionable behaviors, and an inability to actually win in the second season – playoffs. Price has now been “rehabilitated” locally and the love goes both ways. Price will stay. Being a natural skeptic is Price had $127 million left and would not get that anywhere else.
The next one for Red Sox Nation to spend sleepless nights rubbing worry beads is J.D. Martinez. For Martinez, it is five-years at $110 million with an opt-out after the 2019 season. The Price opt-out was affected by his performance so elsewhere would have been a pay cut. For Martinez, the plot line may end differently.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Could this deal have been any better for the Red Sox? The offense needed a catalyst and that was Martinez who banged out 43 home runs and led the American League with 130 RBI. What sets Martinez apart from say a Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge is Martinez hits for average. Last season it was .330 and a unique doubleheader of winning two (count ‘em) Silver Sluggers – one for the outfield and one for Designated Hitter.
Let’s follow the pathway and say Martinez repeats his 2018 season and to make it of even greater concern is the Red Sox actually go back-to-back and bag another World Series. Martinez will get a raise. Martinez will renegotiate. Martinez will have other suitors. That is – of course – if Martinez exercises his opt-out.
From a Martinez viewpoint, this is a unique opportunity and one in which his years of contractual and monetary payout could be extended. I would strongly look at the contracts of Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols as a glimpse into the possible contractual future of Martinez.
The contracts for Pujols and Cabrera run into the players early 40’s and if a judgment was being made the ROI (Return on Investment) is rapidly disintegrating. Neither Pujols or Cabrera is considered a positive defensively and neither is Martinez. But Martinez will most certainly get an extension in years and a nice bump upwards in money providing he produces another All-Star season. Do you pay him?
That is where emotional and reality collide. As a Red Sox fan, you want the best and Martinez is just about the best with that thin piece of maple, ash, or birch in his hands. Martinez will also be 32-years-old and approaching baseball middle age. Emotionally I would want him signed, but then comes Cabrera and Pujols. Contractual and performance albatrosses.
Despite the misgivings, there is another addition to the opt-out and that is David Ortiz. Do you remember Ortiz? The last year Papi was in town his ancient 40-year-old baseball body hit .315 with an astronomical 1.021 OPS. Can Martinez be Ortiz? Will Martinez be Cabrera or Pujols? There is a dilemma. It will be fun to watch especially if Martinez makes another triple-crown run.