J.D. Martinez Wary of Free Agency Ahead of Red Sox Contract Option

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 3, 2020

Boston Red Sox's J.D. Martinez watches his solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Boston Red Sox star J.D. Martinez can opt out of his contract during the upcoming offseason, but he expressed reservations about becoming a free agent to reporters Thursday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't know how [player evaluation] is going to happen," Martinez said.

"I honestly feel like I would not want to be a free agent during this time for that reason. You just don't know. Everything is up in the air for guys like that. It's weird."

When asked whether that meant Martinez definitively planned to eschew free agency, the slugger replied, "negative."

Per Cot's Contracts, Martinez has a five-year, $110 million deal that runs through 2022, but he can opt out after this year and next season.

As ESPN's Joon Lee noted, another variable is the "unknown financial state of market."

This year's MLB season was delayed four months and has been shortened to 60 games because of the pandemic. Contests are also being played without fans, and teams have taken revenue hits as a result.

Martinez has struggled in 2020, hitting .218 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 33 games. The year before, Martinez had 36 homers, 105 RBI and a .304 average.

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The 12-25 Red Sox are last in the American League East, and some players were in the rumor mill before the trade deadline, as noted by Jon Heyman of MLB Network and WFAN Sports Radio.

Some were moved, including outfielder Kevin Pillar, but Martinez stayed put.

It's unfair to say the 33-year-old's performance this year will be symbolic of what's to come for the rest of his contract, as this season has been an odd one for all MLB players.

Martinez was one of the game's best sluggers just one year ago, and it's possible he returns to close to that form in 2021.

Still, the Red Sox are one of the worst teams in the league two years after they went 108-54 and won the World Series, so a lot of work needs to be done for this team to return to past glory.

Perhaps that involves trading Martinez down the line, but for now, he's still with Boston as the Red Sox play out the string.