The biggest decision so far in the Boston Red Sox‘ off-season has been made. According to multiple reports, slugger J.D. Martinez has decided to exercise his $19.4 million player option, thus remaining a member of the Red Sox.
What This Means for Martinez
Martinez’ decision to stay put is probably due to the uncertainty he would have faced as a free agent. If Martinez would have opted out, he would have more than likely been presented with a qualifying offer of $18.4 million, but with draft pick forfeiture attached to that, the chance of Martinez earning big money elsewhere would have been slim. So Martinez is basically betting on himself to put forth another strong performance after posting a .286/.349/.518 slashline in 2021.
On top of that, the 34-year old was good for a 128 wRC+ and 2.9 fWAR, making him one of the more productive DH’s in the game. Despite overall impressive numbers, there was a dip in his production from the first half of the season compared to his second half. He saw a decrease in batting average, ops, walk percentage, and isolated power.
Martinez 1st Half Batting Profile
Martinez 2nd Half Batting Profile
What This Means for the Red Sox
For the Red Sox, having Martinez return as the designated hitter means that if they were to re-sign now free agent Kyle Schwarber, they would play Schwarber as their primary first baseman. That would in turn keep the young righty slugger Bobby Dalbec in a platoon role with Schwarber.
With that being said, do not rule out the possibility of the Red Sox trading Martinez. With the universal DH probably coming next season, Martinez will now be suitable for National league teams. If the Red Sox feel that the aforementioned Schwarber is a better fit for the DH role, Martinez could find himself on the trade block.
The organization’s plan for star prospect Triston Casas could be a factor in what is done with Martinez. Casas is projected to be brought to the big leagues at some point next season. Potentially having Schwarber, Dalbec, and Casas at first base would create an interesting log jam. Having Schwarber as the primary DH would allow the club to create enough playing time for Casas to get acclimated at first base.
The Red Sox have extended the $18.4 million qualifying offer to left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Also, they have exercised the team option on catcher Christian Vazquez for $7.7 million. The team options for pitchers Martin Perez and Garrett Richards have been declined.
Now that the Martinez domino has dropped, the Red Sox will turn their attention to the free agency market. They are expected to be key players in the loaded shortstop and pitching markets. Another thing to look for is the possibility of extending the contracts of stars Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts.