Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez will have an opportunity to return to free agency during the upcoming offseason, but the 33-year-old designated hitter admitted to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe on Thursday that he’d be leery of testing the open market off a pandemic-shortened season.
Regarding the 60-game schedule, Martinez said: “I would not want to be a free agent during this time for that reason. You just don’t know.”
As Martinez implied, a shorter season is more conducive to strange outcomes – perhaps damaging ones for pending free agents – than a 162-game slate. For instance, one of the surprises of this season has been the typically great Martinez’s underwhelming production, and he’s running out of time to boost his numbers.
After a run as one of the game’s elite offensive players from 2014-19, which he divided among Detroit, Arizona and Boston, Martinez has put up a.234/.317/.406 line with just three home runs in 145 plate appearances. Martinez’s .172 isolated power number sits 80 points under last year’s figure (.252), while his hard-hit rate and Statcast numbers have also fallen off significantly since then.
Martinez’s 2o20 woes may just be a product of a much smaller sample size than normal, though he nonetheless hasn’t done himself any favors as a potential opt-out candidate. Once the offseason arrives, Martinez will have a chance to leave behind the remaining two years and $38.7MM of the five-year, $110MM contract he signed with Boston before the 2018 campaign. Martinez also had an opt-out chance last winter, but he decided to stay put on the heels of another fantastic season at the plate.
Considering how his season has gone, not to mention the economic uncertainty in the game, it’s hard to envision Martinez testing the market in a couple months. Regardless, Martinez emphasized to Speier that he’s “focusing on right now,” not his opt-out decision, and he lavished praise on the Red Sox and their fan base.