The Red Sox got a pretty big boon when they were able to sign JD Martinez before the 2018 season. Martinez was one of the marquee free agents that winter, but his market took a lot longer to materialize than he wanted as he sought a big money deal. As the offseason dragged on, he lowered his demands and the Red Sox jumped in and signed him to a five year, front loaded deal worth $110 million. Martinez has blossomed into a lights out hitter for Boston and helped them win the 2018 World Series.
Flash forward to today and the terms of that contract became very relevant. One of the perks of Martinez’s deal with the Red Sox is that it has a pair of opt-outs including one that could be triggered at the end of the 2019 season. Martinez does not have a ton of defensive value, but his bat plays basically anywhere so it was a tough call to guess whether or not he was going to try and get an even bigger payday this offseason.
Well, it looks like he will be in Boston for at least one more season.
BREAKING: J.D. Martinez will not opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 4, 2019
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.
There were likely a few factors that led to this decision. One, Martinez was not guaranteed a better contract than he has with Boston right now if for no other reason because this deal was the best deal he could get when he was a couple of years younger. Second, his experience in free agency the last time did not go particularly well and he may just want to avoid free agency until the market as a whole is more favorable. Finally, as Passan notes in his reporting, Martinez does have another opt-out after the 2020 season albeit without a buyout. This move guarantees him another year at nearly $24 million. The annual rate goes down after the 2020 season, so opting out then may just be a more prudent financial move for him.
As for the Red Sox, they are obviously probably at least mildly happy to have one of their better hitters back in the fold. However, there have been whispers that they are looking to cut costs after a disappointing 2019 season. As a result, it is unclear as to what this means for the likelihood of trading Mookie Betts and others. On the one hand, Martinez isn’t cheap even for a team like the Red Sox and they may want to cut costs elsewhere as a result. On the other hand, having Martinez back on board may convince Boston to take one more shot at a title before they begin making cost-cutting moves and acquiring assets for the future.