Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez still undecided on his future as season ends

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 17: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on August 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 17: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on August 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez just finished another strong season and now must decide where he wants his career to play out.

For the first time in a handful of years, the Red Sox will have to watch the postseason from their couches. A season that felt doomed from the get-go has finally come to an end and now the offseason madness will begin. As Boston searches for a new GM and commences free agency proceedings one man holds all of Red Sox Nation in his hands.

Superstar designated hitter J.D. Martinez has the ability to opt-out of his current contract with the Red Sox and jump into the free agency pool. This is J.D.’s first opportunity to opt-out and has the clause in his deal to do so after the next two seasons as well. If he chooses to remain in Boston for the 2020 season and doesn’t get a newly structured deal then we’ll have to go through this again next winter.

"“I can’t spill my beans just yet,” Martinez said. “We’ll see what happens.”"

If he does choose to test free agency it can be beneficial to the Red Sox as it’ll clear another $23.8M towards the goal of avoiding another CBT penalty. Except they would essentially have to turn that money right around to sign a new DH. When we look at the budget it’s clear that if Boston wants to reset the tax penalty they’ll need to make some serious cuts. This greatly hinders the ability to retain both Martinez and Mookie Betts next winter.

There are pros and cons to J.D. staying as well as leaving but in the grand scheme of things this team is worse off without him. Not only is he one of the best hitters in the game today but he’s been a fantastic locker room guy as far as morale is concerned. Despite the impending decision, Martinez never let it hang over his head like a dark cloud. He answered every question honestly and openly while giving his all every day on the field.

Going into this year he even expressed interest in re-working his deal to guarantee he’d finish out his career with the Red Sox. Unfortunately, Boston spent that money elsewhere and some, including me, would say very poorly. Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce were both re-signed in free agency for a 4-year/$68M and a 1-year/$6.25M deals respectively. They would spend a combined 222 days on the IL this year, money well spent.

Former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski also handed Chris Sale a monster extension for 5-years/$145M, that didn’t really need to be done. Sale wasn’t in any danger of leaving as 2020 would’ve been the final season on his existing deal. Dealin’ Dave must’ve been feeling a bit froggy so he decided to jump.

The only offseason transaction that’s paid off has been the 6-year/$120M extension for Xander Bogaerts. Bogey has had a career year that launched him into the upper echelon of shortstops.

So a new deal for Martinez absolutely could’ve been written had some of these others not been completed. Especially with Mookie coming due next winter the Red Sox need to start stockpiling money as well as pieces around the right fielder to entice him to stay. Much like Mookie, Martinez has enjoyed his time in Boston and has nothing but glowing things to say about the city and team.

"“I’d love (to come back),” Martinez said. “I’ve had good memories and good times here. That’s the business side of it. It’s something I’ll let Scott handle, but obviously it would be nice to be back.”"

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J.D. has been a great ambassador for the Red Sox as far as on the field and off. His work ethic is unmatched and he’s always willing to go the extra mile to help out a teammate. I believe him when he says he hasn’t made a decision on his future as he hasn’t given us a reason to doubt his honesty. Boston feels like the first city and possibly even an organization to truly embrace him and what he can offer a team.

Red Sox Nation will be waiting with bated breath as we watch the postseason. Not so much for the teams that are vying to become World Series champions, but for J.D.’s decision.

He has until the conclusion of the World Series to announce his actions for the 2020 season. If he does leave, that gives Boston a few months to create a plan for a replacement. If he doesn’t, then the front office can begin structuring a lineup to build around him.

I’m not sure what the future holds for J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox. There are so many balls up in the air right now that it’s hard to gauge where the team is at. They’re coming off of an abysmal season but are still less than a year removed from complete domination and a World Series crown. Could this year have been a cocktail of bad luck mixed with championship hangover? Of course, but who knows.

Red Sox fell short of lofty expectations in 2019. dark. Next

The ownership group is heading in a new direction where it seems like they’re not as willing to spend the money to get the wins anymore. It doesn’t feel like they’re going to fully handcuff the budget but the purse strings are definitely going to be tighter going forward. With that in mind, locking down J.D. for the foreseeable future can only be good for the Red Sox as they try and course correct this year.