The Red Sox have started off their 2019 regular season with a huge off field splash. Boston began the season by signing their star pitcher, Chris Sale, to a five year extension worth 145 million dollars. However, Boston’s general manager, Dave Dombrowski did not stop there, news broke late yesterday that the team had agreed on a contract extension with former all-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The Bogaerts extension totals 120 million dollars over the next six years and features a player opt out after 2022. Both extensions do not take effect until after the 2019 season, which means Bogaerts will be on the books this year for his 12 million base salary and Sale will account for a 15 million dollar base salary.
I love these contract extensions from a business perspective as well as from a fan perspective for the Red Sox. The Bogaerts deal is an amazing steal for Boston considering the 10 year 300 million dollar contract fellow shortstop Manny Machado got this past offseason. While Bogaerts has been somewhat inconsistent during his time in Boston, much of that has to do with injury and coaching. Last season, Bogaerts flourished under new manager Alex Cora finishing with the most home runs of his career and winning his second World Series title. In addition to great production last season, Bogaerts has always been a great clubhouse guy and leader for the team. Signing Bogaerts to a deal that will pay him 10 million fewer dollars on an average yearly basis than Machado, is amazing value for the Red Sox as they continue to keep their young core of stars together.
Like Bogaerts, ace Chris Sale signed a similar extension that will take effect in 2020 and will pay him around 30 million dollars per season (average value for a player of his talent). Admittedly, signing Sale to a five year extension is a bit of a risk for the Red Sox as Sale is already 30 years old. In addition to his age, Sale has a strong history of fading late in the season and is coming off a somewhat significant shoulder injury that caused him to miss almost all of last August and limited him throughout the postseason. However, when healthy, Sale is a Cy Young candidate and arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Production is a huge reason why Boston extended their ace, but I also credit Sale’s mentality as a reason for his extension. Sale is an absolute madman when it comes to competition and his toughness as well as attitude sets a precedent for the entire team. As a fan, I will always remember the seventh inning of Game 4 during last year’s World Series when we all saw Sale screaming at the entire dugout while Boston was down 4-0. The scene sparked a Red Sox rally and Boston came back to win the game with a final score of 9-6. An example of Sale’s toughness was on display last postseason when Sale gutted through a bad shoulder injury and refused to sit out during any stretch of Boston’s title run. Sale is clearly the top dog and main leader of the Red Sox clubhouse and I have absolutely no issue with over extending a player that means as much as he does to the Red Sox team attitude.
As I said earlier, I love both of these extensions for the Red Sox and have no issue with either deal. However, both extensions make me wonder about Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. While Boston will have some big contracts coming off the books after 2019 such as Rick Porcello (21.12 million) and Pablo Sandoval (18.445 million) the Red Sox may still face financial issues if they try to bring both Betts and Martinez back. Martinez has a player option after this season and if he has another season like he did last year, he will certainly opt out in hopes of signing a bigger deal worth more than his current 23.750 million base salary. Betts has one more season of arbitration until he hits free agency and thus far he has been unwilling to sign a long term extension with Boston. Betts likely is waiting for a deal that would pay him around 39 million per year and rival Trout’s contract that he signed this offseason. The Red Sox would not be able to pay Betts that amount of money without letting several role players and maybe a star or two, walk away. Given Boston’s lack of prospects to fill those roles, signing Betts to a Trout level deal likely is not an option. If Betts and Boston are unable to workout a reasonable contract for both sides, I fully expect Dave Dombrowski to workout a trade that would deal Betts away to replenish their farm system. The harsh reality of this situation looks to be coming to a one or the other choice between Betts and Martinez that the Red Sox will be forced to make in the next year.