The Boston Red Sox are facing a possible J.D. Martinez opt-out.
The Boston Red Sox have cut payroll and somewhere is a magic number they wish to achieve before creating a balance or returning to previously ingrained free-spending habits. That number is possibly as protected as the formula for Coca Cola. So is the possibility of returning to their previously unbridled spending habits. I will make an assumption – risky business in discussing Red Sox payroll or debating my spouse. They will remain “flexible” as the corporate code word goes.
J.D. Martinez controls his own destiny with the Red Sox. The recipient of a five year, $110 million contract that has opt-outs included. Martinez passed on his first potential exit, but another exists after this season. In 2021, Martinez will collect $19,350 million and will duplicate that figure in 2022 before becoming a free-agent once again. As of this juncture, Martinez’s 2021 salary will represent 15.29% of the total payroll.
Martinez has certainly provided what he is being compensated for – a formidable designated hitter and run-producing machine. Martinez is most certainly a legitimate slugger who is also a hitter – the right-handed basher will hit in the neighborhood of .300. Since we simply adore Yankee comparisons, neither Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton has ever pushed the envelope close to.300 for a full season. Martinez has the bona fides as both a power threat and a batting champion threat.
Will Martinez opt-out?
I am not Martinez, his agent, or his spouse so that is still an issue that will be decided after this retched season is completed. Of course Martinez – off to a relatively slow start – will have to produce, but there is a new market in play. One rule change is the universal DH and that expands Martinez’s market to 15 other teams. Martinez can certainly be a position player but examining the fielding metrics show why DH is best suited for Martinez.
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The expanding market means expanding opportunities and with his personal calendar soon to reach 33-years-old, an extension from Boston or a market test is possible. Martinez most certainly can take the risk and investigate the market and that would leave Boston in a bind or would it?
A big chunk of payroll would evaporate with a Martinez exit and an equally large chunk of offense would depart. With the team in flux, it may be a few seasons of “downtime” as the latest bridge to another championship is under construction. But with loss comes opportunity and that means the need for another right-handed slugger. Can Michael Chavis do it?
Chavis is no Martinez but a solid 2020 may provide enough possible solace if Martinez departs. Management could troll the possible free agents who could provide a short term solution or they could roll the dice on prospect Bobby Dalbec. None mentioned – Dalbec, Chavis, or a free agent – is a Martinez or even a close facsimile, but if J.D. moves on then Boston could pick and choose or use the DH by committee approach.
The Red Sox also have the trade option that would offer both salary relief and the possibility of possible talent in return. Just what level of talent in return is argumentative as I cannot envision another team giving premium talent for what could conceivably be a short term rental. That option is there if Martinez chooses to remain.
If this team was a contender – and I do most fervently believe that is a few years away – the Martinez debate would be a waste of time, energy, and internet ink. You try to keep a player like Martinez, but, then again, you try to keep a player like Mookie Betts. Losing a Martinez is both negative and positive.