RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: Did Martinez drop a hint about his future plans?

RED SOX INSIDER
Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez
J.D. Martinez can opt out and become a free agent this offseason, but on Thursday the Red Sox DH discussed how the uncertainty of the times might affect his decision.
USA TODAY Sports photo

J.D. Martinez told reporters on a Thursday afternoon Zoom call that he had no interest in discussing the past -- perhaps because he's hitting .218 -- and that's fine by us. The only relevant topic at the moment is his future.

Martinez can opt out of the final two years of his contract this fall and become a free agent, but judging from his response to a question about hitting the market a la Astros outfielder George Springer in these uncertain COVID times, he seemed to let slip a preference to stay put.

"I don't know. Honestly that's above my pay grade," he said. "I don't know how that's going to happen. I would not want to be a free agent during this time for that reason. You just don't know. Everything is up in the air for guys like that. It's just weird."

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Since Martinez controls whether or not he becomes a free agent, he was asked the obvious follow-up: should we read anything into that answer about how you're leaning as far as the opt-out?

"Negative," Martinez said with a smile. "That was a slider. Did you stay back on it or did you swing through it?"

Martinez is owed a shade under $39 million over the next two seasons, thanks to a front-loaded five-year, $110 million contract. The deal was almost certainly designed for Martinez to opt out by this offseason, but market forces have consistently worked against him, culminating in a pandemic that has owners crying poor after staging a 60-game season with no fans.

 

"I mean, you can't really read into that, either," Martinez said. "I feel like the owners have been saying that for as far as I've been playing baseball. They never have money and they're always scuffling for money. I feel like you can't read that far into that."

Those seemingly contradictory assertions -- I wouldn't want to be a free agent vs. the owners have plenty of money -- are on brand. When it comes to his future, Martinez typically tries not to commit in any direction, though he did say that he would love to stay in Boston.

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"I love Boston," he said. "I love playing here. I've always said it from the beginning that this fan base suits my passion for the game. I always say when you get booed, I'll be booing myself more than they're booing me. I really don't read into the -- no offense to the media -- I really don't get caught up in all that, either, which is easy to get caught up in in this city. I just love the passion that's here and obviously I'd love to stay here.

"I always feel that Boston is always going to be good, they always have a chance to win every year. Right now we're going through that period, that transition of 2018 to now, with everybody leaving and stuff like that. That's not saying in a year or two or two or three years they're going to be back on top again."

Whether Martinez intends to be a part of that is entirely up to him.