Although they’ve kinda tried to walk things back, every sense you get from the Boston Red Sox this offseason has strongly suggested they want to cut their payroll significantly heading into 2020. They more or less said it. They hired a top Tampa Bay assistant to lead baseball ops. And the rumors about trading Mookie Betts have flown for weeks.
And today’s decision by JD Martinez not to opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million on his contract? It’s only gonna squeeze them further.
BREAKING: J.D. Martinez will not opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox, sources tell ESPN.
By remaining with the Red Sox, Martinez can earn $62.5M over the next three years. He also has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 4, 2019
Not counting any additions whatsoever, the Red Sox would have to cut $20 million in payroll to get their current level under the $208 million first luxury tax tier. If Martinez had bounced, maybe the Red Sox could have found a way to get under while hanging onto Mookie Betts in his final year before free agency (estimated to make $27+ million in arbitration). But now, it’s a cinch that the Red Sox will have to trade Betts or other substantial chunks of salary to make the payroll plan work (to say nothing of also trying to be competitive in 2020).
I mention all this not only because it’s just really interesting for the market, but also because, like the Red Sox, the Cubs figure to be active in the trade market, trying to move around money, transform their roster, and stay competitive in 2020. The two teams could wind up in direct competition with each other.
Of course, I also wonder if the two sides will have conversations about how they might work together to reshape their rosters in salary-neutral ways (but, no, I don’t expect the Cubs to be aggressive on one year of Mookie Betts, as discussed previously).