The Red Sox have conducted talks with representatives for J.D. Martinez, but they have not offered the slugger a new contract as he weighs whether to opt out of his deal and test the free agent market.
According to multiple sources, the team is holding firm at what remains of Martinez's contract, which is three years and $62.5 million, and will risk the possibility that he receives a four- or five-year offer elsewhere. Owner John Henry said that chairman Tom Werner has spoken with Scott Boras, Martinez's agent.
Martinez has until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to decide whether to remain in Boston or opt out and become a free agent. If he does leave, the Red Sox will tender him a qualifying offer for $17.8 million, a source said, which could partially depress his market, since any team signing him would lose a draft pick.
Qualifying Martinez wouldn't be a surprise, however, since the one-year salary it guarantees is lower than the $23.75 million he's due next season, and it will also ensure that the Red Sox receive at least a small measure of compensation if he departs.
With new chief baseball operator Chaim Bloom being introduced on Monday, the Red Sox can begin mapping out their offseason. While the organization recognizes Martinez's immense impact on the lineup, it's also aware that the decision to hit the market is his and not theirs. With the team hoping to drop below $208 million and reset its luxury tax schedule, letting Martinez walk could help achieve that goal.
It's hard to overstate what a massive loss he'd be, though. Over two seasons in Boston, Martinez has made a pair of All-Star teams while averaging 40 homers, 118 RBIs, and a .317 average.
If he does leave, he will likely be limited to the pool of American League teams, since he's no longer a full-time outfielder. The White Sox are considered possible suitors, while there's some unease in the Red Sox organization that the Yankees could become involved, even though they would seem to need pitching more than another bat.
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