Here's a wrench thrown into the free-agent market.
According to multiple reports, J.D. Martinez will not opt out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox, plucking the would-be top designated hitter off the market and leaving teams shopping for a DH this winter looking for alternative options.
The White Sox, of course, are one of those teams, with general manager Rick Hahn naming designated hitter as one of three positions his front office would target this offseason. Martinez seemed like a perfect fit, one of the game's elite hitters who has tons of DH-ing experience and could slide into the middle of the lineup on the South Side. He's also been described as a positive clubhouse influence who helped turn Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts into two of the better hitters in baseball.
But Martinez would have been leaving a lot of money on the table had he opted out, three years and $62.5 million, to be specific. And considering the White Sox were one of a small handful of teams that would have been looking for a DH this winter, the chances of Martinez getting that money back and more this winter might not have been favorable to the player and his agent, Scott Boras. Reportedly, the Red Sox, who are facing a bit of a financial pickle, are willing to listen to trade offers for Martinez. But given how the White Sox mid-tier prospects performed in 2019, it's difficult, though not impossible, to envision a package that could net an impact player of Martinez's caliber.
The White Sox, who were never reported to have any specific interest in Martinez during this early portion of the hot stove season, will now have to turn to other options. There aren't many who, like Martinez, count DH-ing as their trade. Edwin Encarnacion has hit at least 32 home runs in each of the last eight seasons, but he's also about to turn 37 and seems like more of a short-term move. Other options on the free-agent market are mostly limited to guys who haven't done a ton of DH-ing in their careers, such as Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakas.
Why does that matter? Well, there has been a hit-or-miss history of trying to plug non-DHs into DH-sized holes, most recently Yonder Alonso, who joined the 2019 White Sox with just seven career games at DH in his career. He slumped miserably during his three months in a White Sox uniform and was released in early July.
Of course, the White Sox could look at internal options to plug their hole at designated hitter, but none are terribly attractive. Jose Abreu - a free agent who figures to be back with the White Sox next season - doesn't like to DH, and Hahn probably wouldn't want to create another hole that needs filling by moving him to DH. The White Sox have expressed a desire to find ways to get Zack Collins' bat into the lineup, but he's still a bit of an unknown, making it difficult to bank on him filling the DH role for the majority of the 2020 season. Andrew Vaughn, who swings a power bat, was the team's first-round pick in last summer's draft, though he might not be ready for the major leagues in 2020.
If the White Sox were circling Martinez as the big bat to add to their lineup, they might now have to look at players who would require them to rearrange the defensive alignment, such as high-profile third basemen Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson.
Martinez seemed like a perfect fit for the White Sox, but he's keeping his stockings red.
J.D. Martinez staying with Red Sox: Now where can White Sox look for a DH? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago