(Photo: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
As reported today, on the deadline for announcing player opt-outs, J.D. Martinez has decided to not opt out of the remainder of his deal with the Red Sox. Martinez, had he opted out, would have used $2.5 million buyout to forgo the remaining three years on his contract, worth a total of $62.5 million. Instead, he will earn $23.75 million on the Red Sox this coming year, with another opt-out option coming after the 2020 season. While the Red Sox offseason is set to be a mysterious ride, it is off to the correct start. The reasons Sox fans should be happy are very clear.
BREAKING: J.D. Martinez will not opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox, sources tell ESPN.
By remaining with the Red Sox, Martinez can earn $62.5M over the next three years. He also has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season.
J.D. Martinez is a generational hitter — one that comes by once in a lifetime and should be valued for being elite in the box. In two seasons with Boston, Martinez has played in 296 games, in which he has hit 79 home runs with 235 runs batted in. He's a career near-.300 hitter and in his inaugural season with the team in 2018, he made a strong MVP finalist case as a designated hitter and became the only player in MLB history to win two silver slugger awards in the same year, riding a .330 average and 1.031 OPS. Why? Because he is just that good. Fans who still don’t realize or admit just how good of a professional hitter J.D. Martinez is are either those who don’t watch baseball or Yankee fans.
When Dave Dombrowski arrived in Boston with the goal to win a championship, he delivered by winning the 2017-2018 offseason; the move that trumped the league was signing J.D. Martinez. Mentally and technically, J.D. Martinez and his bat were born to play in Boston. With a unique RF approach that keeps him consistently in the league leaders in opposite field power, the ability to pull a baseball 450 feet, and the gritty at-bats to maintain an elite batting average, Martinez’s talent is one that parallels Big Papi. When Ortiz retired, nobody imagined that the DH spot in the lineup could ever be replaced to that capacity. Yet, here we are one more championship later, and J.D. Martinez has put up Ortiz numbers and delivered for two straight years. It’s no fluke at this point — J.D. Martinez has joined clubs that consist exclusively of Boston legends.
Ortiz wouldn’t guess if JD Martinez will opt out: “We need JD. He’s like the base of the lineup. He helps out all the guys. He’s good. He’s good for the ballclub and everything. Hopefully he’ll retire in this organization like I did.”
The value of Martinez goes beyond just the consistent stamp in a lineup. Not only has Martinez consistently been one of the best hitters in all of baseball over the last few years, he has also been a mentor to young hitters in the Boston clubhouse. Rising superstars such as Rafael Devers have inhabited part of a growing culture in baseball of analyzing swings and perfecting the craft of hitting on a plate appearance basis, and J.D. has been one of the pioneers of the field.
Most importantly for the current situation of the Red Sox, J.D. Martinez is irreplaceable. If I haven’t convinced you yet that triple crown threats don’t come by like free chocolate, think about the market of hitters in 2019. What if Martinez had opted out? The Edwin Encarnacion hype train can only get you so far; thirty-six years old and couldn’t hit to save his life against playoff pitching, you’re not going to convince me that that’s enough to replace J.D. Martinez.
From J.D.’s perspective, the move to stick around makes complete sense. Despite the heavy speculation that his agent Scott Boras would convince him to seek an even better situation, Martinez is sticking with a home park where he is comfortable hitting and a team and fanbase that need his bat in the DH spot every day. Martinez is taking into account the realization that age and injury history are factors not on his side if he were to hit the free agent market. The Sox value him. J.D. is here to stick around in his championship city, for the time being.
Now that J.D.’s decision is in, the tale of Chaim Bloom and the 2019-20 Sox offseason is just getting started. Is Mookie Betts next to hit the headlines? Who knows, maybe even an extension coming? ‘Tis the season for crazy ideas.