While there is hope that the MLB season could pick up in June or early July, baseball not being played in 2020 is still a possibility. If that does happen, contracts and arbitration eligibility will likely progress as if a season of baseball had been played. Red Sox management will have some contract decisions to make as well as some holes to fill when the off-season hits.
Contracts on the Books
Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Vazquez, and Andrew Benintendi all have guaranteed contracts for 2021 that total $92 Million. Half of David Price’s contract will also carry over to 2021 after his trade to the Dodgers, and that brings the total to $108 Million for next season.
The only question mark out of all those contracts is Dustin Pedroia. It is unlikely that Pedroia will play in any capacity if play resumes this season. With 2021 being the last year on his contract Pedroia may give it one more shot before announcing his retirement, so his $12 Million salary will likely be on the books for 2021.
Players With Options
There are three players with options for the 2021 season, with the biggest name being J.D. Martinez. After the 2019 season Martinez decided to opt into the third year of his deal, and he has player options for both the 2021 and 2022 season.
I would not be surprised if the National League implements the DH in 2021, and that would give Martinez more suitors in free agency. Martinez’s deal with the Red Sox is also front-loaded, meaning he will be making less in 2021 and 2022 than he did in his previous three years in Boston. This could also lead Martinez to test the free agent market in hopes of inking a more lucrative deal.
Martinez will likely opt out of his contract this up-coming off-season, but he could wind back up in Boston. The only way I see him leaving is if the NL adopts the DH rule, and if they don’t, Martinez will likely opt out and sign a new deal with the Red Sox that will earn him fairly close to the $23.75 million he is set to make this year.
The Red Sox have club options with Mitch Moreland and Martin Perez as well. Boston will most likely exercise Moreland’s $3 Million club option for 2021 as Moreland likes it in Boston and $3 Million is a pretty good price to pay for the lefty bat.
Martin Perez’s $6.25 Million club option is a little tricky considering there might not be a 2020 season. If Perez does not get the chance to play with the Red Sox this year his club option will likely be declined. If there is a season the decision on his option will solely rest on how he plays in 2020.
By the time the 2021 season start, the Red Sox will likely have a pitching prospect ready to join the starting rotation in the form of Bryan Mata or Tanner Houck. This could leave Martin Perez on the outs, as Boston could find a cheaper fifth starting option in free agency.
Players Set to be Free Agents
The Red Sox only have two mainstays that are set to be free agents in 2021: Jackie Bradley Jr and Brandon Workman. JBJ is an interesting case, as he is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, but he has never been a consistent hitter.
A four year/$40 Million contract will likely be the going rate for Jackie Bradley in free agency, and the Red Sox will have the money to pay him. But prospect Jarren Duran has developed quite nicely, and he could potentially take JBJ’s spot for significantly less.
Brandon Workman will most likely leave in free agency, as a team will swoop in and offer him more than the Red Sox are willing to do. Expect him to sign a similar deal to Joe Kelly in the range of three years/$27 Million.
Free Agent Targets
Boston fans are hoping that the Red Sox will bring back Mookie Betts after trading him to the Dodgers, but it might not be a possibility. Betts will likely sign with the team that offers him the most money, so unless the Red Sox offer him somewhere around 10 years/$400 Million a reunion will not be possible.
I do expect the Red Sox to be spenders in free agency, even if they do not land Betts. Marcell Ozuna is a guy that will likely be on their radar if they cannot come to a deal with J.D. Martinez when he opts out. Boston could also make a run at George Springer if they feel like moving on from JBJ.
Pitching will be another area they need to address, and Alex Colome would be a perfect replacement for Brandon Workman as the closer. Ken Giles is also set to be a free agent, and he had a comeback year in 2019 that could help him land a nice contract in 2021.
Robbie Ray and Mike Minor are also two starting pitchers that could help out the rotation. Julio Teheran would also be an under-the-radar signing they could target.
Featured image via Michael Dwyer/Associated Press