The non-exit of J. D. Martinez from the Boston Red Sox is either good or bad and a case can be made for both. For payroll relief, we turn our lonely eyes to Mookie Betts.
Time for a revisit, or is it simply a restatement, of the obvious. The soap opera of the J.D. Martinez opt-out drama has been officially sent to the baseball contractual history files for 2020. Martinez will stay and his $23.750 million will remain firmly entrenched until the drama is revisited in 2021. This now solidifies the Red Sox payroll obligations for 2020.
The reverberations will now focus on Mookie Betts and his expected $27 Million via arbitration. A luxury tax conundrum.
There have been intriguing possibilities regarding options other than the talented Betts and three other pricey Faberge eggs on the pitching staff. David Price ($31 million), Chris Sale ($29 million), and for payroll paupers Nathan Eovaldi ($17 million).
All three are risky as taking part in the running of the bulls blindfolded. If any of the three departs so will money or the endearing baseball phrase of “cash considerations.” Dead money has become a Red Sox trademark of late – maybe the Red Sox should brand it? Red Sox payroll – the official home of where fat contracts go to die? Possible sponsorship from the player’s union?
Martinez is now free to hit his usual .300+ with all the accouterments of run production since Boston can package him for delivery elsewhere. That, of course, is a quandary for the receiving team even if they are in a moment of either generosity or idiocy and require none of that before mentioned cash considerations. Martinez is a potential one-year rental since the opt-out can be visited again in 2021.
Martinez is here to stay and since I am infallible on my predictions that circles us back to Betts. The optimum move for fiscal relief is jettisoning Betts for whatever Chaim Bloom can extricate from a GM who is willing to take a one-year risk and get arguably one of the top five players in baseball. Bloom undoubtedly has the worry beads wearing thin hoping that a bidding war escalates for Betts’ services and a pile of worthy prospects.
The Red Sox payroll would be razor-thin and the wiggle room is almost nonexistent, but, alas one Jackie Bradley Jr. is entering his last year of arbitration and an expected $11 Million as the defensive magician awaits free agency.
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Replacing both Betts and Bradley would be a patch job similar to the chaotic pothole attempts in greater Boston. Invariable they do a credible job for a month before returning to their canyon size past. As a poor analogy warning expect the same from replacements for two-thirds of the Killer Bees. Great defense and great everything are difficult to replace.
If there is any positive to be mined from the Red Sox contract malfeasance is to look south. The Yankees are also approaching a similar payroll squeeze and that may force the Pinstripes to pass on Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. The Yankees have also taken the payroll pledge and have sworn on a stack of Baseball Registers that they will not cross the luxury tax Rubicon. Let’s wait that one out.
As far as our local heroes, the offseason will be intriguing as Bloom attempts to fill roster holes with a Tampa Bay-style best bang for the buck. If Bloom’s noted record of finding some legitimate quality for a reasonable price fails, Bloom will have to face the ferocity of a disappointed nation and a media that eats their young.
Since this is my dime, I would follow the path of just keeping Martinez who may see considerably more time in defensive alignments if Betts and Bradley exit the team. And that they should. Trading either or both does not exclude pursuing either or both in free agency if the payroll can be settled – a highly unlikely possibility.