How J.D. Martinez Staying Impacts Potential Kyle Schwarber Reunion

Schwarber returning still seems possible


Nov 7, 2021

J.D. Martinez will be back for the 2022 season, and that’s good news for the Boston Red Sox.

But that also could impact a potential pursuit of Kyle Schwarber.

Martinez on Sunday reportedly declined to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, meaning he will stay with the Red Sox for the final year of his current deal. This comes just a few days after Schwarber, unsurprisingly, declined his mutual option for next season, thus becoming a free agent.

Presumably, the biggest thing that could prevent a Schwarber reunion now that Martinez is back would be fit. Maybe the Red Sox saw enough from Schwarber at first base to consider bringing him back with that in mind. However, Schwarber has to be amenable to doing that, and if another team can offer him similar money at a position he’s more familiar with, that might be more appealing to him.

A better path for the Red Sox might be to pitch Schwarber on becoming their everyday left fielder. They could move Alex Verdugo to center field, have Hunter Renfroe in right, then Martinez and Kiké Hernández could be among the other options to fill in as outfielders. That might not be the greatest defensive outfield, which could be what gives the Red Sox pause.

Still, that seems to make more sense than having him jump around between first base, designated hitter and left field, in turn becoming an expensive, offensive-minded utilityman. He gets some more familiarity by just playing left, and the Red Sox get to keep his bat in the lineup consistently.

From a financial standpoint, a reunion with Schwarber could be a little tricky. Right now, it’s unclear what the luxury tax threshold will be next season (it’s currently about $210 million), but Red Sox Payroll on Twitter has Boston at an estimated $195 million payroll. The Red Sox could go over the luxury tax, but signing Schwarber would ultimately limit what else they could do along the margins.

By no means does the development with Martinez shut the door on a Schwarber reunion, but it was the biggest domino to fall this offseason because it does complicate a potential reunion.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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