At 11-22, the Red Sox are one of the league’s few clear sellers. In recent days, teams have been connected to each of Matt Barnes, Christian Vázquez, Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley, Jr. While those players all look like strong trade candidates, star shortstop Xander Bogaerts and designated hitter J.D. Martinez are unlikely to be traded before Monday’s deadline, hears Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter).
That’s not particularly surprising, as Bogaerts and Martinez were always something of longshots to move because of their contractual situations. The former signed a six year, $120MM extension last April that’ll pay him around $3.5MM the rest of this season and guarantee him $20MM every year from 2021-25. For a player of Bogaerts’ caliber, that’s a more than reasonable rate in a vacuum. But teams are often reluctant to take on hefty financial commitments mid-season, and that’s all the more true in a year when every team is facing massive, pandemic-driven revenue losses.
It’s possible the Sox could explore a Bogaerts trade this offseason, although getting a deal done would hardly be much easier. His extension comes with a potential full no-trade clause that will kick in September 6, meaning Bogaerts could block any offseason move. He also has an opt-out clause after 2022, further complicating matters. If Boagerts continues to perform at an elite level, he’d very likely exercise that opt-out and hit free agency two-plus years from now. If he were to underperform or get bogged down by injury, any acquiring team would be on the hook for the entirety of the deal at fairly significant rates.
Those logistical challenges cast doubt on the likelihood of a trade, but Bogaerts continues to offer fantastic production. He’s been the seventh most valuable position player by fWAR since the start of 2018, hitting a robust .299/.372/.541 (137 wRC+) with solid defense at shortstop. Disappointing 2020 aside, Boston doesn’t seem ticketed for any sort of large-scale rebuild. They’d certainly be happy to continue slotting Bogaerts into the middle of the lineup if they’re not bowled over by a great offer.
While Bogaerts has continued to perform up to his lofty standards, Martinez has not. The 33-year-old would’ve been an obvious trade candidate had he been hitting anywhere near his 2018-19 levels, when he combined for a .317/.392/.593 line (154 wRC+) with 79 home runs in 1306 plate appearances. He’s off to a miserable start in 2020, though, mustering just a .207/.295/.371 mark through 31 games. More worrisome, Martinez’s average exit velocity is down over two miles per hour from last season (and over four MPH from his 2018 peak).
One poor month doesn’t negate Martinez’s elite track record, but it makes him a risky buy for potential contenders. He’s due a little over $4MM for the rest of this season and is guaranteed $38.75MM over the next two years. Martinez can opt out at the end of this season or next; while he once seemed a strong candidate to test free agency after 2020, it’s unlikely he’d do so unless he turns things around quickly. With ownership groups across the league hesitant to absorb much money, it seems Martinez will try to recapture his old form down the stretch at Fenway.