As expected, the Red Sox have exercised their 2010 option on C / 1B Victor Martinez while declining their option on SS Alex Gonzalez.
The ballclub now has Martinez—who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians at the trading deadline for RHP Justin Masterson and pitching prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price—under contract at $7.1 million for 2010.
Martinez, 30, was a hit during his two-month stint with the Red Sox, batting .336, with eight HR and 41 RBI, in 56 games with the Sox. For the season, he hit .303, with 23 HR and 108 RBI in 155 games.
Meanwhile, the Sox declined their $6 million on Gonzalez, though it seems very likley he will still end up the Red Sox starting shortstop on Opening Day—at a lesser cost.
A-Gon is primarily known for his glove and likely won’t command anything close to $6 million per annum in free agency. He seems an excellent fit with the Red Sox—not only because of his defense, but also because his offense seems improved while hitting in the middle of the Red Sox lineup.
It seems likely he and the Sox will agree to a two- or three-year deal at $3.5-$4 million annually. He would resolve the Red Sox dilemma at shortstop and allow the ballclub to use Jed Lowrie, who has yet to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season, in a super-sub role.
Gonzalez, 32, plugged the team’s hole at shortstop after being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in August…he made just one error in 44 games with the Sox and hit .284, with five home runs.
The Red Sox have investigated other alternatives at shortstop, notably JJ Hardy—formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers. But Milwaukee was clueless in assessing the value of Hardy, demanding either Daniel Bard or Clay Buchholz in return for the shortstop, who hit just .229, with 11 HR and 47 RBI in 2009. The Sox offered Michael Bowden…but the Brew Crew passed.
Red Sox Nation is awaiting word on the Sox decision with respect to their options on Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield . They are expected to decline their option on Varitek at $5 million, though it seems likely Varitek would exercise the player option to return to the club for $3 million (where else is ‘Tek going to get $3 million for 2010 after the season he just finished?). The Sox reportedly want to retain Wakefield at $4 million—which would seem to be somewhat of a bargain—although, after two injury-shortened seasons, they may look to reduce that number somewhat ($3 million?).