Predicting big trio's future with Red Sox

October 30th, 2020

Decision time is looming across MLB as the World Series has given way to Hot Stove season.

There are three decisions involving the Red Sox that must be made by Sunday -- two of which are up to the club and the latter which is up to the player.

We break down each case below.

Should the Red Sox make a qualifying offer to ?

The case for extending the QO to Bradley: This offseason, the qualifying offer is worth $18.9 million. That is more than Bradley’s market value, but bringing back the star defender on a one-year deal would buy the Red Sox time to figure out if , their No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, can be the team’s next center fielder. Also, by extending the qualifying offer to Bradley, the Red Sox would get Draft compensation should he sign elsewhere.

The case against extending the offer: After making $11 million in 2020, Bradley would be getting a huge raise that isn’t warranted if based simply on his market value. This is no slight at Bradley, who is an elite defender. It’s just the reality that he’s a streaky offensive player whose overall numbers (including an .814 OPS) look better in the just-completed 60-game season than they likely would have in a 162-game season. Quite simply, if Bradley accepts the qualifying offer, his $18.9 million salary might take away the productivity chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom can have in maximizing the rest of the roster.

Prediction: Red Sox don’t extend qualifying offer to Bradley.

Should the Red Sox exercise ’s $6.25 million club option?

The case for picking up the option: Pérez was one of the only reliable starting pitchers the Red Sox had last season. The lefty made all 12 of his starts, going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA. Take away two clunkers -- Pérez’s first and last start -- and the numbers look even better. At any rate, $6.25 million isn’t a lot to pay for a pitcher who can take the ball every fifth day. He also embraced the Boston experience, even during a losing season.

The case for not picking up the option: In 2018, Pérez had a 6.22 ERA. In '19, despite a strong first half, he finished with a 5.12 ERA. In other words, there’s hardly any guarantee Pérez will be as consistent as he was in the shortened '20 season. Bloom has a lot of holes to fill on his pitching staff if he wants to have a contender next season -- particularly in the bullpen. If the Red Sox choose not to pick up Pérez’s option, it is simply an indication they need to allocate that $6.25 million to other areas of the club.

Prediction: Red Sox pick up Pérez’s option.

Should exercise the latest opt-out clause in his contract?

The case for Martinez opting out: If agent Scott Boras sees a potential suitor in big need of a power bat, perhaps Martinez will roll the dice and see if he can top the $38.75 million the Red Sox would pay him over the next two seasons. It would be a bold move, considering Martinez is coming off his worst season since 2013.

The case for Martinez not opting out: Coming off a season that is even worse than subpar (Martinez had a .213 average and .680 OPS in 2020) isn’t the time when a player typically opts out. This is only amplified considering the ongoing pandemic and the uncertain market that will create. Martinez hinted in multiple late-season interviews that he did not see himself opting out. Instead, he said he was going to go back to the “lab” and make sure he has a rebound season in '21. If Martinez does restore his value with a big season, he has yet another opt-out a year from now.

Prediction: Martinez won’t opt out.