Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez will face an opt-out decision at season’s end, but the slugger told Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic and other reporters Friday that he’s unlikely to leave behind the remainder of his contract.
“Given the situation, I’m probably not leaning that way,” said Martinez, who will discuss the matter with agent Scott Boras.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Martinez stay put, as he’d otherwise be vacating the final two years and $38.75MM left on his deal. Martinez is slated to earn that money as part of the five-year, $110MM contract he signed before 2018, at which point the former Astro, Tiger and Diamondback was one of the sport’s most feared sluggers. Martinez continued to thrive in his first year in Boston, which he helped to a World Series then, but has since seen his production tumble.
While Martinez remained a terrific hitter last year, when he slashed .304/.383/.557 with 36 home runs in 657 plate appearances, those numbers still fell well shy of the otherworldly output he managed from 2016-17. Martinez could have opted out after last season, but he elected not to do so.
As for this season, it’s shocking how poorly Martinez has performed, as the 33-year-old owns a .217/.293/.389 line with a mere six homers over 222 trips to the plate. It’s the worst production Martinez has offered since 2013, his final season with the Astros and the last year before he broke through as a star offensive player.
Even if Martinez had another fine campaign, opting out would have been risky because of the uncertain economic landscape a pandemic-shortened season will present for baseball. Martinez even expressed leeriness about the upcoming free-agency period three weeks ago. Now, it looks even less likely he’ll return to the open market in the coming weeks.