Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox must be smart with Qualifying Offers
Finally, a season that felt like it would never end has come to its painful conclusion, and the focus can shift to the future.
The months ahead will be full of predictions about the Boston Red Sox roster, free agency, blockbuster trades, and so much more. Most diehard fans will be setting up tweet notifications to make sure they don’t miss any updates on Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the many other irons the Sox will have in the fire this offseason. When the World Series ends, teams will have to decide if they want to extend any Qualifying Offers to impending free agents. QOs can only be made to players who’ve spent their entire season with the team and have never received one before, and Boston has three big free agents who qualify, so to speak: JD Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Wacha.
Are any of them worthy of the one-year deal with a hefty salary in the $18.5M range (the QO is the average of the league’s 125 richest salaries)? It’s a pretty hefty price tag, especially for three players on the wrong side of thirty who are more than familiar with the Injured List.
After examining the three candidates during the season, let’s revisit them now that the dust has settled…
Will the Red Sox extend a Qualifying Offer to JD Martinez?
Since arriving in 2018, Martinez has been one of the key cogs in the Red Sox machine. But while the once-powerful DH still has some fight in him – as we saw during the final games of the season – those punches just don’t land like they used to. He hit more doubles in fewer games than last season, but for the first time since 2013, he didn’t hit 20+ home runs (shortened 2020 season excluded).
Martinez is also a curious case because it seemed like the Sox were willing to move him for the right price before the season started. And it’s not wrong to suggest that he should’ve opted out last offseason, as he would’ve gotten a hefty contract after a strong performance in 2021 and the implementation of the Universal DH in last spring’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Instead, Martinez decided to stay in Boston. He’s never been shy about his love for the city and organization and would be happy to spend the rest of his career here. And while his power may have fallen off in 2022, he still finished near the top of the league for doubles and was able to contribute, when healthy. Unfortunately, his usual spell of back issues plagued him again this season; the deadened baseball didn’t help matters, either. By the time the August 2 trade deadline rolled around, it was pretty clear 2022 wasn’t Boston’s year and it seemed inevitable that they’d move Martinez in order to get below the Competitive Balance Threshold, more commonly known as the luxury tax. Interestingly enough, Chaim Bloom didn’t really unload any of his expensive stars, opting to add a few intriguing players and ride things out.
This quickly proved to be a mistake. JD had been a monster in the first half but ran out of steam as the season progressed and finished the year as a shadow of what he’s capable of. Considering the hefty price tag, it’s doubtful that Bloom will be sending a QO Martinez’s way at this point in his career. A cheaper deal could be on the table but even that feels like a long shot.