One last look at J.D. Martinez's opt-out decision

Rob Bradford
November 04, 2019 - 11:06 am
Categories: 

J.D. Martinez has to make his decision by midnight tonight. At 12:01 a.m. the Red Sox offseason strategy will officially take root.

Let’s take one last look at the whole ball of wax …

If the 32-year-old decides to forgo the guaranteed three years, $62.5 million left on his deal with the Sox it will undoubtedly be a blow to the Red Sox prospects for 2020.

While the price tag is a sizable big chunk of change, considering how the Red Sox are constructed and what they continue to need Martinez is worth the investment.

During his two seasons with the Red Sox he managed to fill the middle-of-the-order void left behind by David Ortiz after the slugger’s retirement following the 2016 season. During that span he totaled the fourth-best OPS (.985) in baseball, only behind Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Mookie Betts.

Martinez came away with more total bases than anyone in MLB while playing for Boston, also finishing the two-year stint with a combined .317 batting average and 79 homers (the 4th-most of any big leaguer).

The Red Sox went 56-18 in games Martinez hit at least one home run, 109-32 when he managed one RBI or more and 151-79 on occasions he came away with at least one hit.

Along with his presence in the clubhouse and the batting cages Martinez was been just what the doctor ordered.

If he does opt-out perhaps there is a chance the Red Sox re-engage with Martinez and his agent Scott Boras on a new deal, but that seems unlikely considering the opportunities have had to spruce up the deal the player is putting in the rearview mirror.

From the Red Sox’ perspective the hesitancy to up the offer to Martinez stems from this luxury tax threshold hell they have found themselves in, trying to get under $208 million for 2020. If the righty hitter decides to move on the Sox will immediately move just below the desired threshold, making conversations regarding a Mookie Betts’ extension a bit more palatable. If he stays, well, some tough decisions will get appreciably tougher.

Despite his production and relative youth, this is far from a no-brainer for Martinez.

If he goes to free agency the Red Sox will tag him with the one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer, meaning whatever team signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick.

There is still some doubt in baseball circles that Boras will be able to get a National League team involved considering Martinez's defensive limitations. He played 38 games in the field in 2019 (with the Red Sox going 19-13 in contests he managed at least out putout), after playing in the field 57 times the season before.

The White Sox seem like a logical fit, with cases to be made for some interest emanating from the Rangers and Yankees.

Some question whether or not it will be worth the risk for Boras and Martinez to re-enter the market in order to potentially make $10-15 million more, particularly when he has another opt-out after next season.

Stay tuned ...