As Opt-Out Decision Looms, J.D. Martinez Is Officially on the Clock

Even though there is still one game remaining in this year’s installent of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros on Wednesday night, a former Astro in J.D. Martinez is on the clock.

Yes, the 32-year-old now has until 5 PM eastern time next Monday to decide whether or not he will opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million of his contract and become a free agent.

Martinez originally inked a five-year, $110 million deal with Boston back in February 2018. A deal that included built in opt-outs after the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons.

In the two seasons he has spent with the Sox to this point, the Florida native ranks second among qualified American League hitters in home runs (79), first in RBI (235), sixth in runs scored (209), and second in slugging percentage (.593).

While introducing new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on Monday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said that he does not know what Martinez’s decision will be and that, “We’ll find out very soon.”

A client of super agent Scott Boras, Martinez may be enticed to enter free agency once again, as at 32, he may only have one last chance to earn a sizable contract in terms of both length and dollar figures.

In the following days leading into Monday evening, the Red Sox will have exclusive negotiating rights with their two-time All-Star slugger, as well as their other free agents. Martinez could reach a decision as early as 9 AM on Thursday, per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

If Martinez were to opt out of his contract, the Sox would owe him a buyout in the form of $2.5 million. They would also more than likely extend him a qualifying offer in this scenario, which will be worth $17.8 million this offseason. That way, any club that signed Martinez would also owe Boston a compensatory draft pick, one that would fall after the fourth round of the 2020 amateur draft.

Given how Henry and chairman Tom Werner have essentially made it clear that they would like to cut down on payroll this winter, it should be interesting to see how serious the club is about bringing Martinez back if he does indeed opt out.

Red Sox Formally Introduce Chaim Bloom as Their New Chief Baseball Officer

The Red Sox officially named Chaim Bloom as their new chief baseball officer on Monday afternoon through a press conference that featured Bloom himself, principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and team president Sam Kennedy. Brian O’Halloran was also formally promoted to general manager, marking the first time Boston has had a GM since 2016.

“We’ve tried to keep up with the change in nature of the baseball operations landscape,” Kennedy said of Bloom’s new title. “We value the collaboration and brainpower and institutional knowledge that our incredible team of baseball operations folks have.”

In his new role with his new organization, Bloom, who is coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays after 15 seasons working various roles, most recently as senior vice president of baseball operations, will have plenty of tough decisions to make right from the jump.

The futures of two Red Sox All-Stars, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, are among those, with Betts having one year remaining in arbitration before reaching free agency for the first time next winter, and Martinez having five days to decide whether or not to opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million on his current contract once the World Series comes to a close later this week.

“Our top priority is sustainability and competitiveness over the long term,” Bloom said when asked about Betts and Martinez. “That can take many forms but that’s really going to be the top priority. There’s a lot I don’t know. I’m just coming in here. So I’m looking forward to building relationships with them.”

The theories surrounding what the Sox plan to do with Betts has been a hot topic since the club’s 2019 season ended last month. So much so that Henry discussed it, as well as Martinez’s situation, when describing what the interview process with Bloom was like.

“We talked about that there are a lot of tough decisions to make during this offseason. That’s not uncommon,” Henry said. “We talked about Mookie, J.D. other issues, but we didn’t focus on what should we do.”

As has already been indicated by Red Sox ownership, it is a goal, not a mandate, to get the team’s 2020 payroll under the $208 million luxury tax threshold. Betts, who is projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration, and Martinez, who would earn $23.75 million next year if he opts in, would account for approximately 24.7% of that $208 million.

“You’re going to look at a number of factors,” said Henry. “Including where Mookie wants to play in the long-term.”

If the Red Sox were to offer Betts a contract extension and the 27-year-old were to turn it down, a trade would not be out of the question. Bloom did discuss how integral a quality farm system is for a team’s long-term success. Even with one year left of team control, Betts still could garner a hefty return in terms of prospects in a potential trade.

How Bloom makes his mark in his tenure with the Red Sox will be something to pay attention to for the foreseeable future. Someone who came up in a club with limited financial resources now has a great deal more to work with. How he utilizes those will be worth monitoring as Boston heads towards an offseason full of uncertainties.

Red Sox Tab Chaim Bloom as New Head of Baseball Operations

The Red Sox have hired Rays senior vice president Chaim Bloom to be their next head of baseball operations, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

This news comes the day after it was reported that the Sox had interviewed Bloom for the position.

The 36-year-old Yale University product had been with Tampa Bay since 2005, initially serving as an intern for the club before working his way up to GM Erik Neander’s second-in command as vice president of baseball operations in November 2016.

At the time of former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski’s dismissal from the Red Sox, principal John Henry made it clear that he would prefer to get under the $208 million luxury threshold for the 2020 season.

In hiring Bloom to run their baseball operations department, the Philadelphia native will surely be tasked with doing just that, as he is coming over from an organization that put up impressive results the last two years (90 wins in 2018, 96 wins in 2019) despite operating on a minuscule payroll.

The specific details of Bloom’s appointment are not yet known, as the Red Sox themselves have yet to make anything official. But, this appears to be a move that is well regarded across the baseball world, so that is certainly positive to see.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan quotes one of Bloom’s former co-workers, who said, “For a guy as smart and accomplished as [Bloom] is, I think he gives everyone a feeling that he’s approachable and wants to engage.”

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox could name Bloom as the club’s new “chief baseball officer.”

Once the Sox do make things official with an announcement or press release, make sure to stay tuned right here for more on that.

Red Sox Officially Part Ways with Dave Dombrowski Less Than a Year After Winning World Series

In case you somehow missed it, the Red Sox officially parted ways with now former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Monday morning after the news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan late Sunday night.

This comes on the same night that the Red Sox fell to the New York Yankees by a final score of 10-5 to fall back to 76-67 on the season and a full eight games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second American League Wild Card Spot, all but snuffing out any hope of making a late push for October baseball.

Dombrowski, 63, had one year remaining on his contract that ran through the end of the 2020 season, and is less than a full year removed from constructing a Red Sox team that won a franchise-record 108 games en route to a historic World Series title this past October.

The ex-Detroit Tigers general manager was hired by the Sox in August of 2015, inheriting a club from Ben Cherington that was on its way to its third last place finish in the American League East since 2012.

In the three full seasons he was at the helm in Boston, Dombrowski won three consecutive division titles, the first time that had ever been accomplished in Red Sox history, and of course capped it off with the World Series win last year.

Per the Sox’ official release that you can visit above, Dombrowski was informed of this decision by principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and president & CEO Sam Kennedy.

“We were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to bring Dave in to lead baseball operations,” said Henry. “With a World Series Championship and three consecutive American League East titles, he has cemented what was already a Hall of Fame career.”

While the club begins the pursuit to find its next head of baseball operations, assistant general managers Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran and Zack Scott will take over those duties for the remainder of the 2019 season.

‘Just Because You Go to Free Agency Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Want to Be Somewhere’ – Red Sox’ Mookie Betts

Before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of a pivotal 14-game stretch for the Red Sox’ season on Monday, Mookie Betts opened up a bit about his impending free agency.

Betts, set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season, expressed his desire in wanting to hit the open market, but defended his reasoning for wanting to do so.

“I’ve loved it here,” the reigning American League MVP told reporters Monday. “I love the front office, my teammates, coaches. Everybody. It’s been nothing but amazing here. Just because you go to free agency doesn’t mean you don’t want to be somewhere. It’s just a part of the business.”

This comes amid speculation that Betts would prefer to play in a different market due to a certain disdain for Boston, but the 26-year-old shut that right down, saying that, “I’ve always said I loved it here. It’s been amazing to me, my family. It’s … like a home to me. It’s been all I know. And just because you exercise something in the business, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.”

There also remains the distinct possibility that Betts could be dealt before the July 31st trade deadline depending on how the next week-or-so goes for Boston, given the fact he can become a free agent in just over a year.

“I think that’s a part of it,” Betts said regarding being traded. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I have to go out and put on my uniform every day. And if that time comes, that time comes. But right now I’m here, and I’m enjoying my time here. It’s above my pay grade.”

What’s fascinating to me is how some Red Sox fans seem fine with letting the club deal Betts away for prospects. Sure, getting something in return is better than getting nothing outside of a compensatory draft pick if he does leave via free agency, but it’s not like replacing a top-five talent is easy to do.

There’s no sure thing that any of the prospects the Sox would acquire in this scenario would pan out to be an everyday player in the majors, let alone one of Betts’ caliber.

At the end of the day, the Red Sox are the Red Sox. If Betts wants to test the market and go where he feels the most desired, then principal owner John Henry and co. should be ready to pay their man.

Through 99 games this season, Betts is slashing .282/.396/.479 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI, and a league-leading 89 runs scored.

Since the start of July, the Tennessee native has posted an impressive .382/.463/.603 slash line to go along with two homers, 10 RBI, and 23 runs scored over his last 17 games played.

It’s not often a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate falls into your lap in the fifth round of a amateur draft. The Red Sox should do their part to keep Betts in Boston for the rest of his playing career and beyond.

#RedSox Engaged in Extension Talks with Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts

When speaking with the media at JetBlue Park on Monday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner made it clear that the club is engaged in contract extension talks with at least two players who are set to become free agent following the 2019 season in Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts.

Although neither Henry nor Werner gave any specific details about where the extension talks were at, both Sale and Bogaerts have stated that they are open to remaining in Boston for the forseeable future this past week.

Regarding Sale, Henry said that, “we would love to be able to sign him. I think he would like to as well. But there are the realities of the marketplace and budgets. This is his opportunity to be a free agent, potentially. Which we’d like to avoid, and I think he would as well. So something could happen.”

Sale dealt with issues in his throwing shoulder in 2018, which could somewhat diminish the value, but Henry believes the Red Sox ace brings much more to the table than what he does on the pitching mound every five days, specifically citing his fiery speech in the dugout during Game 4 of the World Series.

Another thing that could warrant an extension with Sale is what went down between the Red Sox and another big left-hander in Jon Lester five years ago. Like Sale, Lester was entering the final year of his contract with Boston and talks regarding an extension opened up during spring training of 2014. Ultimately, the Red Sox failed to reach an agreement and later traded Lester to the Oakland Athletics that July. Lester would then go on to sign a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs that winter.

“I think we blew the signing (of Jon Lester) in spring training,” Henry said. Perhaps some lessons learned from that ordeal can be applied now.

Sale, set to turn 30 in march, posted a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 27 games started last season. He finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting and 22nd in MVP voting.

As for Bogaerts, the 26-year-old shortstop told reporters on Friday, “I enjoy my time here. Obviously we’ve had something special going on for the last couple of years now. I think I’ve been a part of it since it pretty much started.”

Bogaerts also noted that, “the Red Sox have treated me and my family amazingly so far. So we’ll see what happens.”

A client of Scott Boras, it is understandable why Bogaerts may want to avoid free agency next winter given the circumstances right now with two of the best players in the game in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still unsigned with just over a month until Opening Day.

In 2018, Bogaerts slashed .288/.360/.522 with a career best 23 home runs and 103 runs driven in. He finished 13th in American League MVP voting.