Understandably so. Betts is one of the best players in Major League Baseball — nearly eye level with Trout — and can test free agency after the 2020 season. A comparable payday could be on the horizon for the reigning American League MVP.
But perhaps we should give more attention to one of Boston’s other superstars: J.D. Martinez.
Martinez, 31, and Betts, 26, are at very different points in their respective careers. They’re also very different players, with Martinez primarily a designated hitter — a damn good one, to be clear — and Betts an all-around talent similar to Trout.
That said, Martinez’s current contract comes with future uncertainty — the slugger can opt out of his deal after the 2019, 2020 or 2021 season — and there’s no denying his importance to the Red Sox.
“Nothing has happened,” Martinez told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on Wednesday of possible contract talks with the Red Sox this spring training. “There’s a lot on their plate.
“I don?t really even think it has been discussed yet with (agent) Scott (Boras),” the defending AL RBI king added, per Bradford. “My standpoint is I want to focus on the season. That?s the most important thing. We have a special group of guys here and I want to go out and give us the best opportunity to win.”
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told MLB insider Jon Heyman he’s “hopeful” Martinez won’t opt out of his contract. Another season like the one Martinez put together in 2018, however, could open the door for that possibility.
Martinez hit .330 with 43 home runs, 130 RBIs and a 1.031 OPS in 2018, finishing fourth in AL MVP voting. He’s slated to earn $23.75 million each of the next two seasons, before making $19.35 million per year in 2021 and 2022.
That isn’t chump change, especially for someone who already saw how stressful free agency can be. But continued offensive dominance just might persuade Martinez to test the open market again, perhaps before his age-32 season in 2020.
“I don?t think it will do anything but distract me,” Martinez told Bradford of worrying about his opt-out clauses. “It?s kind of like in 2017 when I was going to be a free agent, you have to treat it the same way. At the end of the year, you let your numbers do the talking and make the decision then. I learned to have that mindset. Focus on the things you can control and not worry about things you can?t. What you can control is your preparation and how you get ready, the game and the at-bats you put together.”
Martinez didn’t rule out negotiating with the Red Sox during the 2019 season, although it’s obvious he’d rather focus on his on-field duties. Either way, decision time for both sides will be here before you know it, and that reality is flying under the radar, to some extent, in the wake of Trout’s megadeal.