Red Sox

Mookie Betts contract just made J.D. Martinez's opt-out decision a lot more complicated

Red Sox

Here's the question J.D. Martinez is undoubtedly asking right now: was Mookie a one-off?

The Dodgers' decision to sign Mookie Betts to a record 12-year, $365 million contract extension suggests that perhaps the cash spigot isn't as dry as baseball's owners had led us to believe during contentious return-to-play negotiations.

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What's unclear is if Betts represents a special case as a generational talent in his prime, or if there will still be money for players like Martinez, who can opt out of the final two years of his Red Sox contract this fall.

While baseball is only implementing the universal DH in both leagues this season for safety reasons — a proposal to add it in 2021 collapsed when the owners imposed a 60-game season — there's no reason the sides couldn't revisit the issue this winter. That makes the timing of Martinez's opt-out trickier, since he must decide within five days of the World Series ending, and baseball's players and owners can't agree on anything without a protracted fight.

Prior to Betts signing his extension, Martinez's safest course of action appeared to be remaining in Boston for two years at just under $40 million.

But if there is indeed money out there, and if the NL is able to add the DH beyond 2020, there would suddenly be 15 new markets vying for the services of the best DH in baseball, who has averaged .318-40-118 with the Red Sox while making two All-Star teams and winning a Silver Slugger.

 

Is that kind of production worth more than two years and $40 million for a 33-year-old? In the old days, a case could've been made for yes. In baseball's new economic landscape, it's hard to say.

What we do know is that the old money is still out there. Whether it's there for anyone other than Betts is a question that Martinez, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, and Houston center fielder George Springer, among many other potential free agents, will be contemplating for the next two months.