By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The World Series is over, and so the countdown begins for Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez.
As the Washington Nationals celebrate their first title in franchise history, Martinez has a decision to make. The Boston DH now has five days to decide if he’ll opt out of the final three years of his contract with the Red Sox and hit free agency again.
Martinez is set to make $62.5 million over the next three years, so he and agent Scott Boras have to figure out if he’ll get a bigger deal somewhere else. The cost-cutting Red Sox aren’t very eager to offer Martinez anything more than he’s already set to make, so he’s expected to opt out and see what offers roll in.
But those offers may not be as plentiful as Martinez desires, as he learned the hard way two winters ago. When he became a free agent in 2017 following a career year with Detroit and Arizona, only the Red Sox and Diamondbacks made offers, and neither were near the seven-year, $210 million contract that Martinez and Boras sought. Martinez ended up taking Boston’s five-year contract worth $110 million — with a trio of opt-out clauses — as spring training got underway.
Martinez has lived up to his contract thus far in Boston, with a pair of All-Star appearances and his fingerprints all over the team’s 2018 World Series title. He has 79 homers and has driven in 235 runs in a Red Sox uniform, giving Boston some much-needed power in the heart of their lineup.
But the problem is at 32, Martinez is heading towards a life strictly as a DH. The market for such players is not as abundant as it once was, and that could mean Martinez remains in Boston. National League teams aren’t going to blow him away with a multi-year offer this winter, so his market will be limited to AL teams. Most teams are set at DH, or won’t be willing to make such a rich investment into the position, leaving only a handful of teams to send a deal Martinez’s way.
The Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays are expected to show some interest in Martinez should he opt out. While the Red Sox failed miserably at defending their 2018 title last season, Martinez may view Boston as the greenest pasture out there, even if it means his wallet won’t have as much green as he had hoped. And if he feels the market could be better next offseason, or the offseason after that, he has two other opt outs in his back pocket. He’s set to make $23.75 million next season before his annual salaries dip to $19 million in the final two years of his deal, so he may play out 2020 and go from there.
It’s a pretty unique situation that Martinez and the Red Sox find themselves in at the moment, one that will resolve itself in the next five days.