Depending on your point of view, J.D. Martinez’ decision to opt-in may be the most consequential transaction the Red Sox face this offseason. With John Henry’s decree that the team dip below the $208 million competitive balance tax threshold, Martinez’ decision will have ripple effects throughout the organization. Most prominent will be whether or not the team keeps Mookie Betts. Naturally, this leads to some uncomfortable thoughts that fans shouldn’t be forced to have in an uncapped sport. No fan should be put in a position to choose between two beloved players as a result of ownership’s greed.
That’s why I’m glad Martinez decided to stay.
He’s a remarkably fun hitter to watch, he’s helped several players by acting as an unofficial third hitting instructor, and most importantly, he makes the team better. I’m not going to play the game of whether or not he’s worth his salary or whether I’d rather have him or Mookie on the team because the Red Sox can surely afford both.
John Henry can afford to go over the CBT for as long as he wants. His decision to cut payroll to sneak below the CBT at the expense of winning was not a decision made out of desperation in an attempt to make a profit from the team. The team is already wildly profitable from television rights fees, gate receipts, merchandise, and concessions. This is a decision ownership made to extract more profit from the team.
I’m not one to tell other fans how to behave. If you believe that Henry is earnest about getting underneath the CBT or adore Mookie that much, that’s fine. I’m of the belief that they’re going to shop both because ownership is being disingenuous about their finances and just want to cut payroll under the guise of “efficiency” and rebuilding the farm system. Personally, I’m not going to cater my feelings to the whims of billionaires who wants to make even more money at my expense.