Red Sox: Losing universal DH should make J.D. Martinez’s decision easy

How losing the universal DH affects the Red Sox

We all had a feeling that this day may come and it seems to be here. Our new beautiful toy, the universal DH, seems to be on its way out. In a year where nothing has felt normal, adding the universal DH to the league has been a bright spot that saw many teams excel thanks to not trotting a pitcher to the batter’s box. You may be asking how losing the universal DH affects the Red Sox? Well, my friends, it all starts and ends with J.D. Martinez.

Per LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune and Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports, the universal DH Boston’s big slugger has the ability to opt-out this winter and test free agency and will have that same option ahead of 2022 as well. Last year we all waited with bated breath to see what Martinez was going to do and luckily he chose to remain with the Red Sox.

This winter feels a bit different though as the pandemic has destroyed the economy and will wreak some havoc on free agency paydays. Add in the loss of the universal DH and I find it hard to see J.D. testing free agency.

Another big difference in regard to Martinez and his Red Sox future has been his posturing and overall approach to this year’s opt-out possibility. After the 2019 season, he was much more coy and secretive and took his choice down to the wire. In this year’s instance, he hasn’t been as mysterious with his mindset and has spoken a few times about being hesitant in testing the waters this winter, and it feels like he’s heavily leaning towards opting-in.

Even with the league being able to stop the financial hemorrhaging nobody is swimming in a Scrooge McDuck-esque pool of money right now. Now that half of the league is losing his best-played position, it just wouldn’t make any sense for him to risk guaranteed money to chase a possible final big payday.

Losing the universal DH also hurts the entire National League and their fans, as they now have to go back to watching pitchers half-heartedly swing and miss instead of seeing hitters do what they do best.

When it was announced that MLB would be taking the DH worldwide a majority of people were all for it. Of course, there are those traditionalists out there that hated it and I don’t want to say that they’re wrong, but they are. With all of the analytics and science that is going into the game in 2020 why on Earth would it ever be more advantageous to have a pitcher hit? I don’t want to hear the chess match analogies about strategy and gameplans, they’re outdated thought processes. Don’t risk the health of your pitchers by putting them in the batter’s box or on the basepaths.

Ok, rant over, back to the Red Sox and their future with and without the universal DH. If this report holds true and it likely will, J.D. has 50% fewer suitors to choose from and his options are squandered. The thing is, after the 2021 season the players and the league will head back to the negotiation table as a new CBA needs to be agreed upon. That’s when most believe that the universal DH will become a thing for the foreseeable future as it’ll be one of the easiest wins the owners will give the players.

I’ve said it a few times throughout this article and I’ll say it again, I don’t see J.D. leaving ahead of 2021, but ahead of 2022, that’s when I think he makes his exit. The winter after this upcoming season will be his last chance to make an exit from the Red Sox and get that last contract before his career comes to a close.

In that span could the two sides restructure his deal to allow him a new salary and guaranteed years? Of course, and I think that’s actually the best route for both sides as Martinez has made it clear that he loves playing in Boston.

It’s a shame that we won’t get to see the universal DH again in 2021 but thankfully we shouldn’t be without it for too long. For the Red Sox and J.D. Martinez, losing it could cause them to rethink their futures and their relationship. However, regaining it in 2022 could also set the scene for a J.D. shaped hole in the wall as he runs to free agency and a final big contract. It’ll be very interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few seasons especially in regards to Boston and their slugger.