How the Red Sox may be affected by a shortened or canceled season

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox at bat during a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31: J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox at bat during a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The 2020 MLB season is already on a delay and a cancellation is still a possibility. How will the Boston Red Sox be affected by the curveball that is 2020?

As we approach what was supposed to be Opening Day, it’s very clear that we won’t be seeing Red Sox baseball anytime soon. It still feels like a bit of a dream that we won’t see teams taking the field on March 26. Sadly, it’s a reality that we need to come to terms with. We still don’t know enough about COVID-19 to begin to predict when things may get back to normal, so for now, no baseball.

What does that mean for the Red Sox as they’re stuck in limbo? Great question my friends! There are plenty of unknowns still ahead for Boston before the players even begin to think about making their way to the diamond. Between free agents, injured superstars, and a DH that can walk after the next few years, Chaim Bloom must have stock in Ibuprofen.

It doesn’t appear that the MLB or MLBPA have any sort of plan in place for a myriad of issues heading their way, and rightfully so. A delayed season and or fully canceled season has only happened a few times in the history of the game, there’s no reason to have a plan.

You can’t really rely on what was done in the past either as the game is nothing like it once was. Hell, it’s nothing like it was even five years ago, let alone decades ago.

So, let’s start with the first glaring speed bump ahead of the Red Sox, the contract of lefty ace Chris Sale. As we all know, the southpaw is set for Tommy John surgery and will be on the shelf to mid-2021 at best.

What does that mean for that shiny new contract extension of his? If it was just a season missed due to injury it’d still be activated and Boston would have to pay. Since there isn’t going to be a full season, and again maybe not even a season, do they still have to count it?

Obviously Sale will still get paid but as there isn’t going to be a full-service year missed is the league/team able to count that against the five years of the deal? Or will his first year be attached to the first full year the league is in effect?

If it isn’t activated until 2021 then that’s a massive pro for Sale as he has essentially earned another year and a massive con for Boston as he’s now in his 30’s, with TJS, and has a hefty price tag. They’d be running into another David Price scenario by having an aging pitcher with a ridiculous salary that will be difficult to move.

Now let’s head to the offensive side of the game and Boston’s powerhouse DH, J.D. Martinez. The powerful righty has the chance to opt-out of his contract to become a free agent after the 2020 season. He chose to opt-in and remain with the Red Sox for the upcoming campaign, but what if there isn’t one?

Say the coronavirus doesn’t calm down as soon as many believe it may and Rob Manfred calls an end to the 2020 season or it isn’t played in full, what’s next? Does J.D. get to opt-out and become a free agent next winter ahead of 2021? Does he have to stay with Boston for one more season to fulfill the obligation he chose for 2020? It’s another wild scenario that is hard to truly make a clear cut decision on.

I’m sure the MLBPA will want their player to have the chance to leave and get paid some big money, while the team will want him to stay in order to fulfill what he selected for 2020. It would be a massive pro for the Red Sox if they can get a full 2021 out of Martinez especially if this season is stunted by the delay.

It would be a big-time con for J.D. as he will essentially miss out on a chance to jump into free agency with his best buddy Mookie Betts. The clock is ticking on his career and he really has only one more big-time contract in his future.

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Let’s not forget free agency as a whole in this situation. If 2020 is either a shortened season or canceled as a whole, do this upcoming winters free agents still get their chance at a payday? As far as the calendar is concerned, 2020 will have come and gone but there may not be a season. Do we look at contracts in terms of service years or calendar years? Boston will have a few names on that list in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar. How will they be affected?

I won’t begin to try and pretend that I know what is going to happen with this season as none of us have any idea. Both the league and PA are going to want what’s best for everyone but each has their own motivations.

I’m not even the tiniest bit envious of the owners, Commissioner, or MLBPA, as this is a situation that nobody could’ve foreseen. Hopefully, they can come up with a solution that allows everyone, including the fans, to win in the end.

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The entire world has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. With the way things are unfolding, we’re in for a season full of questions that may not yield many answers. The Red Sox will most certainly be in the front of the line of those that are asking and rightfully so. While we await the return of our beloved baseball, stay safe and be well my friends!