J.D. Martinez Opts into His Contract: What This Means for Mookie Betts
BOSTON - Every week, there seems to be a new wrinkle regarding the Boston Red Sox and their 2019-20 off-season. Last Thursday, the organization announced that they had hired a new pitching coach in Dave Bush.
Replacing Dana LeVangie, Bush is a former major league pitcher for teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays. He joined the Red Sox organization in 2016 as a pitching development analyst and has steadily worked his way up the ranks to become the new pitching coach.
Additionally, the team hired Kevin Walker as a new assistant pitching coach and Peter Fatse as an assistant hitting coach.
But the biggest story of the Red Sox off-season has undoubtedly been Mookie Betts. The Red Sox have access to at least one more season of Mookie on the roster, but with the increasing unlikelihood that Betts would sign an extension with the team, they would risk letting him walk in free agency next year for nothing.
The team has made many offers they believe to be fair for Mookie, but he was denied them all. Frankly, as one of the best players in baseball, he should get whatever he is asking for. But the Red Sox seem to be operating with more fiscal conservatism and have yet to retain one of the best talents in baseball.
This has begun to arise questions about whether or not the Red Sox should trade Betts for assets, so at least we would not lose his abilities for nothing. Aside from the fact that it would make me physically sick to see Betts get traded, I'm not sure many teams would pay top dollar for him, considering he has just one year left until free agency. Although, he did just win his fourth consecutive Gold Glove award. That's pretty impressive and many teams have taken notice of that.
Complicating the entire affair was J.D. Martinez. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that Martinez did not opt out of his contract and decided to stay with the Red Sox for at least the 2020 season, but I am also nervous because the top brass in Boston hinted at the fact that they would only be able to keep Martinez or Betts. Not both. With Martinez's guaranteed return, Betts might be on the trading block more than ever.
I've written before about how Boston should not operate like a small-market team and should instead embrace their assets and position, but the franchise does not seem interested in doing so. I do believe that Martinez opting into his deal likely means that Betts will be gone by the end of the winter. But I will remain hopeful that someone will use common sense and recognize the fact that one of the best in baseball is an invaluable commodity to have on your team.
All concern about Betts aside, I do want to express my jubilation that Martinez will be back. It is a story that will likely get the shaft in favor of the ongoing Mookie drama, but to have J.D. as the team's designated hitter is just awesome.
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