Boston Red Sox rumors: 3 big decisions awaiting team in offseason

Xander Bogaerts #2 and Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Xander Bogaerts #2 and Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox
Kyle Schwarber #18 congratulates J.D. Martinez #28 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox big decision No. 2: Who will stick around at DH?

It feels like the Sox are going to have to end up choosing between J.D. Martinez and Kyle Schwarber as their designated hitter next season. Both players proved to be great fits in the lineup this season, but the salary cap may not allow for both players to be brought back next season. Depending on how things go, there could be a difficult decision made quite early on in free agency.

The difficulty of that decision could be reduced to nothing if Martinez decides against opting out of his current deal. Martinez could opt into the final year of the 5 year, $110 million deal he signed back in 2018, which would lock in his salary at $19.35 million for the 2022 season. However, Martinez hasn’t given any indication on what his intentions were, with the last thing he said on the matter being that he was “right in the middle” on his decision.

If he does end up opting out, then it puts Boston’s front office in a tough spot. Martinez has been the anchor of this lineup during his stay in Boston, but in terms of value beyond the plate, Schwarber offers a lot more than Martinez. Schwarber can play in the outfield and at first base as we recently saw, but he really profiles more as a designated hitter at this point, just like Martinez.

Martinez is also already 34 years old, whereas Schwarber will be just 29 by the time the 2022 season rolls around. Investing in Schwarber feels like the safer move for the future, especially given the struggles Martinez endured during the shortened 2020 season. He had a great bounce back season this year, but it proved that the end was in sight for the veteran slugger.

You could technically bring both back, but it will cost the team a lot of money that probably needs to get used on other parts of the roster. If Martinez opts in that’s a big chunk of cap space that automatically goes to him, and would change the team’s offseason plan. If not, it gives them more freedom to navigate the waters, but also increases the likelihood he wouldn’t return,

It’s a difficult call to make, especially given how productive both players were this season. There are pros and cons to both, and in terms of short-term planning, this is probably the biggest decision the team makes this offseason. In terms of long-term planning though, there is one decision that trumps all the others.