Sam Kennedy and the Boston Red Sox can exhale, for a brief moment at least, as J.D. Martinez informed the team Monday he wasn’t opting out of his contract, which is slated to pay the All-Star slugger $23.75 million next season.
The Red Sox didn’t know until that point what the future held for Martinez, whose five-year, $110 million deal signed before the 2018 season also includes opt-outs after the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Now, they finally can shift their offseason focus.
“I honestly thought it could go either way,” Kennedy, the Red Sox’s president and CEO, said Wednesday of Martinez’s decision, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “It’s a decision he and his representatives made based upon what they thought of the market. It was a hard one to read. We obviously didn’t find out until Monday. It’s good to have it behind us because now we have more information as we begin to think about the planning for next year and beyond.”
The Red Sox theoretically could trade Martinez this offseason as they look to reduce their payroll to under the $208 million competitive balance tax threshold. Or they could keep Martinez and shed salary elsewhere, with Mookie Betts’ name being tossed around in trade speculation thanks to the roughly $30 million he’s projected to make in 2020 ahead of his impending free agency next offseason.
Either way, the Red Sox have every reason to be happy that Martinez didn’t opt out of his contract. Not only does it give Chaim Bloom more options as he navigates his first offseason as Boston’s chief baseball officer. Martinez also has established himself as one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball in recent years, and it’s never a bad thing to have a very good player under club control.
“You never want to lose a talented player,” Kennedy said, per Cotillo. “Of course, there are hard decisions teams have to make in terms of parting ways with guys in every sport. What J.D. Martinez has done for the Red Sox and hopefully will continue to do, is not just a big bat in the middle of the lineup. He also helps elevate other players on the team and that’s widely documented. That’s helpful. That’s a good thing. Now we move on.”
Martinez, who finished fourth in American League MVP voting after a monster 2018, is coming off another excellent season, batting .304 with 36 home runs, 105 RBIs and a .939 OPS.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images