Red Sox

Why Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are likely to test free agency

Why Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are likely to test free agency

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Top agent Scott Boras held the Red Sox up as something of a model franchise on Wednesday. Naturally, he would: they had the highest payroll in baseball, and won a world championship.

Boras lamented the noncompetitive nature of many other clubs, and would love nothing more than for the Red Sox to keep spending.

“I told John Henry, he does not look good in soccer shorts,” Boras said, referring to Henry and Co.'s stake in Liverpool. “So to [divest] him of that and devote all to the baseball wellbeing of his interests. The soccer coach was there with him."

"You have a proven commodity [with the Red Sox]. You have players that are in their mid-20s. You have a team winning when you have a whole group of players that are in their mid- and early 20s. It’s really a model that’s going to allow you a great amount of success if you can retain those players. I think that the baseball algorithms will demonstrate they’re in for a good run if they retain those players.”

But will they retain them all?

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“I don’t know,” Boras said. “I was just getting champagne dust, so I have not talked to them at length about that yet.”

Doubtful. Not all of them. And a year from now, the likeliest outcome is that if Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez do sign long term deals here, they’ll have tested free agency first.

Two of the best Sox players entering potential walk years in 2019 are Boras clients. And virtually every factor suggests they’ll test the market, rather than ink new deals ahead of time.

When it comes to Martinez, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski essentially said as much himself Wednesday at the general managers’ meetings. 

There are opt-outs in Martinez’s deal, which could go as long as five years. But he can also walk away after next season. And there are also protections for the Red Sox if Martinez has a specific health situation arise.

Redoing the deal now would mean guaranteeing more of the contract, and Dombrowski made that sound like an uncomfortable proposition for the Red Sox, despite how successful Martinez has been.

“He can choose to leave, it’s his opt out,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “But the reason we put ‘em in there were medically oriented as we went through at the time.”

“That medical hasn’t changed,” Dombrowski noted.

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Martinez, who didn't make as much money as he wanted to last winter, probably will be more than happy to go back on the market himself.

Bogaerts is a different story from a Sox' perspective. But Both Dombrowski and Boras have matters to tackle first.

For one, Boras has a huge spotlight on him as free agent outfielder Bryce Harper’s representative. Harper reportedly turned down a contract worth $300 million to stay with the Nationals. On a basic level, Boras will be focused on what he has to do immediately: get Harper the kind of mega-deal everyone has always expected he would receive.

“I have had Scott do some earlier deals,” Dombrowski said regarding timing. “Not regularly, but he does do it once in a while, so we’ll find out as time goes on. You know, he’s got a lot of big guys out there at this time, so he has a tendency to focus on them. But Bogey’s only one year away, so that’s important for us.”

But Dombrowski also needs to figure out his priorities, with Chris Sale also set to become a free agent next winter, Mookie Betts two years away from free agency, and also plenty of choices to make this winter with present free agents.

“We got a lot of decisions to make,” Dombrowski said. “You know you got Bogey in another year. Mookie, Jackie [Bradley Jr.] in a couple years. So you got some big contracts. And we have great ownership, wherewithal. But still, everybody has some limitations too. So we have to make some tough decisions. But we’ll be prepared to keep a lot of our players, but I’m not sure which ones it’ll end up being as time goes on.”

Even if Boras and Dombrowski were to clear their schedules and slates to discuss Bogaerts right now, there’s good reason for Bogaerts to wait.

Harper’s presence in the free-agent market, along with Manny Machado’s, has long been considered a possible reset, a time when the pay scale can be changed for the players’ betterment. If they’re both paid handsomely, the worth of subsequent free agents increases.

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“I sit and listen,” Boras told NBC Sports Boston on Wednesday. “And my attitude is, I always listen. And so I’m open to any thoughts they have on the subject. And then we go from there.”

Another Boras client, Jose Altuve of the Astros, agreed to an extension last spring training, for five years and $151 million in additional money. Altuve is 28 now, Bogaerts is 26.

“Well Bogaerts is [two and a half] years younger. But he’s a shortstop,” Boras said of Bogaerts. “So he’s done a lot.”

That's Boras code for: "Bogaerts is going to be really rich, and I'm going to make sure of it."

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How did World Series champions who missed the subsequent postseason respond the year after?

How did World Series champions who missed the subsequent postseason respond the year after?

With a loss to the Rays and an Indians win over the Phillies, the Red Sox were officially eliminated from playoff contention in a season following their World Series championship. 

Boston has won 4 titles in the last 15 years, a mark no other team has matched in the same time frame. But the last two times the Red Sox have won it all, they failed to make it past September the following season. 

After winning the World Series in 2013 with a magical bearded run following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox finished with a 71-91 record, which was good for last place in the AL East. They followed up 2004's championship with a first-round sweep to the eventual champion White Sox and then fell to the Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS in 2008. 

Fortunately for the Red Sox, it's become pretty common for a World Series hangover to last an entire season after the fact. Boston is now the 10th team since 2000 to miss the postseason after hoisting that World Series trophy. 

Of course, we know what those teams did after they won it all, but what happened the year after they failed to get back? How many bounced back vs completely faded away?

2004 ANGELS

The Angels followed up their first championship in franchise history with a letdown year in 2003. They finished 77-85 and finished third in their division. However, they returned to form in 2004 and took back the AL West crown. The addition of Vladimir Guerrero certainly helped. The 29-year-old superstar won the AL MVP in his first season with the Angels, hitting .337 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. The Angels would eventually get swept in the ALDS by the eventual champion Red Sox.

2005 MARLINS

The Marlins shocked the world by beating the Yankees in the 2003 Fall Classic, but finished third in the NL East the season after. Things didn't get much better for them in 2005 either. Sure, they had a better record, but they once again fell to third place and would eventually trade Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit and send ace Josh Beckett to the Red Sox. This is probably the path the Red Sox want to avoid. The Marlins have been one of baseball's worst over the last 10 years. 

2007 WHITE SOX

After winning the World Series in 2005, Chicago went 90-72 the following season. A strong showing, but the AL Central was a powerhouse that year. The Tigers and Twins made the postseason over them. The year following, the White Sox went 72-90 and haven't been a real threat in the American League since. 

2008 CARDINALS

St. Louis won its first championship since 1967 in 2006, but missed the playoffs the next two seasons after. Cardinals fans wouldn't be disappointed for long though, as they won another title in 2011 in an epic series with the Rangers. 

2012 GIANTS

Ah, the Giants. Kings of winning a World Series, missing the playoffs and then bouncing back to win another. The Giants missed the postseason after winning it all in 2010, but then came back the following year to beat the Tigers in the World Series. Few will forget Sergio Romo striking out Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to close out the series for San Francisco. 

2014 GIANTS

Look who it is! It's the Giants yet again! The 2014 run was how Madison Bumgarner became one of the best big-game pitchers of all time. He carried the Giants staff on an incredible workload to lift the Giants to their third championship in five years. They're the only team close to the Red Sox' level of success since the turn of the century. 

2015 RED SOX

The Red Sox were terrible in 2014, and while they weren't as bad in 2015, they still finished last in the AL East and below .500. Fortunately they would win the next three straight division titles to go with a World Series in 2018, but sometimes the reload takes a bit longer than you'd want from a team that was able to reach the pinnacle of their profession. Age most certainly played a factor for Boston here. 

2016 GIANTS

Everyone assumed the Giants would bounce back for the fourth time and win another World Series after missing the playoffs in an odd-numbered year. Alas, it wasn't meant to be, and the Giants would miss the playoffs for the second straight season. They have not been back to the postseason since. 

2017 ROYALS

The Royals took down the Mets in 2015 to finally get their World Series championship after falling to the Giants in 2014. The next two season would not be kind to the Royals, where they missed the playoffs both seasons with a record around .500. Kansas City is now one of the worst teams in baseball, but at least they got one. 

2020 RED SOX?

The Red Sox have a lot of questions to answer regarding their roster with Dave Dombrowski officially out as President of Baseball Operations. J.D. Martinez can opt-out of his current deal for a pay raise, and Mookie Betts' extension weighs over the franchise's head too. After a season like 2019, Boston needs to upgrade their pitching staff, but they might not be able to if they want to commit resources to their best players. Boston could be in trouble moving forward. 

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Highlights of the Red Sox' 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Rays

Highlights of the Red Sox' 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Rays

FINAL SCORE:  Rays 5, Red Sox 4 (11)

IN BRIEF: Willy Adames' RBI single in the 11th inning gave the wild-card contending Tampa Bay Rays a 5-4 victory over the visiting Red Sox, who blew their 28th save of the season. The defending champion Sox had officially been eliminated from playoff contention before the loss by a Cleveland Indians' victory earlier Friday. BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 80-73

HIGHLIGHTS

7th inning:
Holt doubles to left, Moreland hits a two-run homer off Morton on an 0-and-2 pitch (2-0, BOS).

(D. Hernandez replaces Porcello on the mound) d'Arnaud singled to center, moves to second when Aguilar, pinch-hitting for Kiermaier, walks, Heredia pinch-runs for Aguilar. Brosseau, pinch-hitting for A. García, walks to load the bases (Walden replaces D. Hernandez on the mound), Lowe, pinch-hitting for Duffy, grounds into a fielder's choice, scoring d'Arnaud (2-1, BOS).

Adames hits a ground-rule double to right, scoring Heredia (tied, 2-2).

(Taylor replaces Walden on the mound) Taylor throws a wild pitch, scoring Lowe (3-2, TB).

8th inning:
(Cashner replaces Taylor on the mound) Meadows walks, Choi doubles to right, scoring Meadows (4-2, TB).

9th inning:
(Pagán replaces Anderson on the mound) G. Hernández triples to right, Moreland hits a two-run homer to left off Pagán on 1-2 pitch (tied, 4-4).

11th inning:
(Kelley replaces Poyner on the mound) Brosseau walks, Davis pinch-runs for Brosseau, moves to second when Robertson walks, Adames singles to left, scoring Davis (5-4, TB). 

UP NEXT:
@Rays, Saturday, 6:10 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Sunday, 1:10 p.m., NESN
@Rangers, Tuesday, 8:05 p.m., NESN
@Rangers, Wednesday, 8:05 p.m., NESN
@Rangers, Thursday, 2:05 p.m., NESN

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