The Boston Red Sox got a boost in morale when J.D. Martinez decided to opt-in and return to the team for the 2020 season. The reason? Winning.
From the moment the season began it felt like the light was firmly planted on J.D. Martinez and what his future would hold with the Red Sox. With how his contract is built, he has the power to opt-out and test free agency after 2019, 2020, and 2021, firmly placing the power in his hands.
We all know that Boston is in dire need of a budget cut as they desperately want to get below the CBT in order to reset their penalties and make a run at Mookie Betts next winter. So having J.D. decide to remain with the Red Sox throws a monkey wrench in that plan as the DH will haul in $23.75M in 2020.
The thing is, that’s beyond money well spent as the powerhouse righty is a lock to be in the MVP conversation. Having him in the lineup instantly makes any and every team better as he’s not only a leader on the field but off of it as well.
During the GM Meetings in Phoenix, Martinez’s agent Scott Boras was asked about the reasoning behind his client’s decision to remain in Boston. Despite the horrendous 2019 campaign by the team, his answer was simple, winning.
"“J.D. wanted assurance of competition at a high level and the fact that he played so well in Boston,” Boras said. “We looked at it and with those two things in mind, that was the focus. For that reason, he decided to opt-in.”"
Simply put, Martinez wants to win and he feels the Red Sox give him the best chance at achieving that goal. Boston was nowhere near contention in 2019 but that didn’t stop J.D. from putting up top-notch numbers, .304/.383/.557/.939 with 36 homers and 105 RBI. Since he arrived in Boston in the winter of 2018, he’s made a major impact.
"“The contract that we structured allowed him choices after each season. It was something that in this year, at this time, we felt like it was the best decision,” Boras said."
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Under Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox will be undergoing some changes as they will likely listen to any and every trade offer that’s proposed. He at least knows that he has a constant, at least for 2020, in his designated hitter. He can use that confidence to then move the pieces on the chessboard to build a contender for next season. The offense surely won’t be an issue as they tackle the schedule next year.
I will admit I was nervous that J.D. test free agency, especially after the number that he’s posted in Boston. The big thing that Red Sox Nation had working in their favor was the shaky free-agent market. Not only did it take big names like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper all winter to find new homes last winter, but Martinez also had a hard time finding a team ahead of 2018.
There’s also the factor of his age, which may not seem like a big thing for a DH, but when it comes to getting paid, it’s huge. J.D. will be 33 before the season ends ahead of his next opportunity to opt-out. If Boston is able to rebound in 2020 and Martinez has another monster year, he may feel a little froggy and want to jump, but the assurance he felt this winter may remain.
"“This is an elite bat,” Boras said. “This is very different than what DHs are, usually, to most teams. He’s a franchise bat so we always look at him that way.”"
The bottom line of the matter is that J.D. Martinez will be returning to the Red Sox for the upcoming season and the team is better off for it. With Mookie Betts deadset ongoing to free agency after the 2020 season, this could be Boston’s last chance to win with the dynamic duo. If J.D. either works out a new deal or sees out his time in a Sox uniform, that may be a big bargaining chip to keep Betts in Boston.