Red Sox

J.D. Martinez is officially on the clock, and here's where he could end up if he opts out

J.D. Martinez is officially on the clock, and here's where he could end up if he opts out

Let the J.D. Martinez countdown begin.

With the World Series officially over, the Red Sox DH now has five days to decide if he'll opt out of the final three years of his contract and become a free agent.

Because the Red Sox have no plans at the moment to offer him anything more than the $62.5 million remaining on his deal, he's expected to opt-out and see what the market might bear.

The question he and agent Scott Boras must ask, though, is what kind of interest he'll realistically generate. Luckily for them, we're here to help!

Thanks to Martinez's unique set of skills (and weaknesses), narrowing the field is easier than you might think.

For one, let's just throw out the entire National League. Martinez can play the outfield in a pinch, but it's hard to imagine anyone committing three or four years of big money for him to play there every day at age 32, with some back troubles in 2019.

That leaves the American League. He's as good a DH as the game has seen since David Ortiz, and even in an era when teams seem disinclined to devote major resources to the position, Martinez's impact on an offense means he'll have suitors. It just probably won't be as many as he deserves.

Playing the process-of-elimination game in the AL doesn't leave too many teams standing.

First off, there's money. Martinez's contractual demands -- three years and $75 million feels like the floor -- should take half of the league out of contention.

That means the Rays, Indians, Tigers, Royals, and A's. I'd add the Orioles to the list, because what's the point? And if the Red Sox are intent on cutting costs to drop below $208 million, then we should put them here, too, as ludicrous as that sounds.

Next up: teams with DHs. The Twins just picked up Nelson Cruz's option, so they're out. Same goes for the Angels (Shohei Otani) and Astros (Yordan Alvarez). Unless the Rangers can find a taker for Shin-Soo Choo's $21 million salary, then they lack an opening, too.

I'd argue that the Yankees should be on this list, thanks to uncertainty over Giancarlo Stanton's ability to stay healthy, as well as no shortage of internal candidates to share at-bats: Gary Sanchez, Mike Tauchman, etc. . . . The Yankees so desperately need starting pitching, it's hard to imagine they'd make Martinez a priority, but the Red Sox are nonetheless uneasy that New York could end up being stealth bidders to create a monster offense.

So who's left? The Blue Jays, White Sox, and Mariners.

The Blue Jays intend to spend this offseason, but after trading ace Marcus Stroman to the Mets, they're desperate for pitching. They can't be entirely discounted, though, because their young core of children of former big leaguers -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio -- could use not just a mentor, but an alpha in the middle of the lineup to let them develop without carrying the load.

Martinez would be that guy, but the Jays won't win anything without more pitching. That's where their resources will likely be directed.

The Mariners have signed massive free-agent deals before, be it Adrian Beltre or Robinson Cano. They also reportedly tried to acquire Martinez from the Tigers in 2016, so there's a history of interest. But it's hard to see how Martinez, who turned 32 in August, fits the long-term plans of a team that just won 68 games and isn't close to contention.

That leaves one team, and it's the most intriguing of the bunch: the White Sox.

Like the Jays, Chicago boasts a promising young core built around AL batting champ Tim Anderson, former Red Sox farmhand Yoan Moncada, and slugging outfielder Eloy Jimenez. Martinez could fill the mentor/alpha role described above.

Like the Mariners, the White Sox have shown an occasional willingness to spend in free agency. Just last year, they made a legitimate run at Manny Machado before he signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres.

The White Sox are close, thanks to one of baseball's best farm systems. Martinez's arrival would dovetail nicely with the integration of top prospects like outfielder Luis Robert and second baseman (and Dustin Pedroia clone) Nick Madrigal.

Like the Yankees, Chicago should probably be focusing its resources on pitching, but that's going to be a competitive market. The Martinez Sweepstakes, by contrast, could end up being a much quieter affair, which makes the White Sox, at least from this standpoint, the best fit to land him in free agency.

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Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Highlights: Alex Verdugo homers twice in Boston's second straight win

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Highlights: Alex Verdugo homers twice in Boston's second straight win

FINAL SCORE: Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 3

IN BRIEF: Alex Verdugo homered twice and Mitch Moreland added one of his own in the Red Sox' win over the Blue Jays on Friday night. The Red Sox capitalized on a woeful outing from Blue Jays starter Tanner Roark, who walked five batters and allowed four runs in three innings pitched.

Sox starter Ryan Weber allowed two runs in three innings, then the bullpen put together an admirable effort to preserve the lead.

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Well, that escalated quickly

Verdugo's first Fenway homer

Moreland's two-run shot

Vlad Jr. brings Jays within one

Homer No. 2 for Verdugo...

...and then he robs one!

vs. Blue Jays, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., NESN
vs. Blue Jays, Sunday, 1:35 p.m., NESN

Red Sox players erect perfect Fenway Park tribute to Dustin Pedroia

File photo

Red Sox players erect perfect Fenway Park tribute to Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia may not be with his teammates this season, but that doesn't mean he can't watch over them with an iron glare from the best seats in the house.

Red Sox players asked if cutouts of family members could be placed in the box seats behind the home dugout, and the first row includes quite the intimidating image -- Pedroia and his three sons staring at the field, arms folded sternly.

From left to right, Cole, 7, Dylan, 11, and Brooks, 6, mimic their father's pose. All four were fixtures at Fenway Park in recent years before injuries took their toll and effectively ended Pedroia's career.

(Photo via Barry Alley)

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Until being injured on a questionable slide by Manny Machado in 2017, Pedroia was on his way to making a borderline Hall of Fame case for himself. The former Rookie of the Year and MVP played an integral part in two World Series championships, and also earned a ring after appearing in three games for the 2018 club.

The four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover went just 2-for-20 in six games last year before shutting it down, probably for good. His six-year, $85 million extension expires after next season.

Even if his Red Sox career is over, his impact on the franchise is not, which is why his teammates have chosen to honor him in a way that perfectly suits his bleep-talking, larger-than-life personality -- by glowering at them like he's about to hurl an insult.

Xander Bogaerts poses next to cardboard cutouts of his mom, Sandra Brown, and his uncle, Glenroy Brown (Photo via Barry Alley).