BOSTON (CBS) — Following a disappointing 2019 season, the Red Sox now face two big decisions with two of their best offensive players. Unfortunately for them, only one of those decisions is actually theirs to make.
Mookie Betts is heading to his final year of arbitration before he’ll be eligible to hit free agency following next season. After making $20 million in 2019, the sky is the limit for the former AL MVP, and he’ll likely find himself making upwards of $30 million in 2020.
Now the Red Sox — or rather, whoever they hire as their new GM — have to make a tough decision on Betts. With John Henry expressing his desire to cut payroll next season, will the Red Sox trade away Betts, in hopes of both shedding a monster contract and replenishing their farm system? Or do they let it ride for another year and hope that Betts either signs long-term, or receive a draft pick when he leaves via free agency?
Betts has been coy on whether or not he wants to remain in Boston, and he’ll have no shortage of suitors when the time comes to hand him a ridiculously large contract. He scored the game-winning run in Boston’s frantic regular season finale win on Sunday, and was asked after the game if he thought his ninth inning at-bat could be the last time he steps to the plate in a Red Sox uniform.
“I was thinking about just winning the game at that point. That’s out of my hands,” he said of his future. “I have my representation to take care of that stuff so I don’t worry about that.”
Betts has transformed himself from a second base prospect to an All World right fielder in just a few short years in Boston. He’s grateful for everything he’s been able to do in a Red Sox uniform, but even he doesn’t know what the future holds at the moment.
“It’s been amazing,” he said of his time in Boston. “I can’t thank the fans, teammates, front office enough for everything. I’m still here. It’s not like I’m gone until …. whenever. So I’m not going to focus on that right now.”
While the Betts decision is the Red Sox’ to make, the same cannot be said for J.D. Martinez. The DH can opt out of the final three years of the five-year, $110 million deal he signed in 2018, and he has super agent Scott Boras on his side to find him a deal bigger than the $62.45 million he would make in Boston.
After the 2019 season came to an end, Martinez wouldn’t say which way he’s leaning. But the more he talked, the more it sounds like he’ll be looking for a deal elsewhere.
“I can’t spill my beans just yet. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I have to make an individual decision for myself. When the time comes, it’s one of those things where you see what’s in front of you and then you make your decision. I haven’t sat down to think about it or go through it all with Scott. I’ve been focused on who’s pitching and where I’ve got to go, what I’ve got to do, my work. I haven’t really gotten caught up in it. Now that the season’s over, I’ll have time to go home and think about it.”
For now, that home is Boston. Martinez said it would be nice to be back, but he also wouldn’t be averse to wearing a different jersey for the fifth time in his career.
“I don’t mind moving around,” Martinez told The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham. “I kind of like it.”
Good luck to whomever takes over as Red Sox GM. They’re in for a busy and difficult first few months on the job.