As the Boston Red Sox primarily focus on reaching the MLB postseason for the first time since 2018, there appear to be long-term concerns surrounding outfielder J.D. Martinez. At the end of the current season, the 34-year old will need to decide whether to opt into his $19.4 million option for the 2022 campaign.
According to an interview with WEEI, Martinez is reportedly “in the middle” about whether to return to Boston for a fifth season. He originally signed a five-year, $110 million deal during the 2017-18 offseason. The contract was structured in an an unorthodox fashion, giving each side multiple chances to opt out of the deal. The main concern surrounded Martinez’s injury history, which seemingly hasn’t been an issue during his current tenure.
This season, Martinez has been an asset for the Red Sox offense; maintaining a slash line of .285/.349/.516 across 612 plate appearances. He has been nominated as an All-Star on three occasions since joining Boston.
Martinez has declined to opt-out of his current contract with the team in each of the last two seasons and has expressed his displeasure for the free agent experience. However, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could play a factor in Martinez’s future. It is widely expected that the new CBA could push for the National League to add a designated hitter slot, opening up the market for teams interested in Martinez in that specific role. Still, he would need to opt-out of his current deal with the Red Sox before the universal designated hitter rule becomes a potential reality.
There are plenty of teams that could use the likes of Martinez in their current lineup. With an uncertain future, he could very well remain with the Red Sox and secure his 2022 salary. On the other hand, there is always the unknown risk of giving up a larger payday or finding further success with an alternative franchise.