We are still in the early days of the offseason, and the first order of business is for teams and players to make decisions on their options and whether or not they will hit free agency. The deadline for those decisions comes on Sunday. For the Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez has a player option for 2022, Christian Vázquez has a team option, and Kyle Schwarber has a mutual option, meaning both the team and the player must opt in. The latter has made his decision according to a report from the AP, with Schwarber declining his side of the $11.5 million option. As a result, he will be hitting the free agent market.
This decision does not come as a surprise as it is almost unheard of for a mutual option to be picked up by both sides. In essentially every case at least one side will see the terms as unpalatable. In this case, Schwarber made that call, which is certainly understandable. The slugger is coming off a season in which he hit .266/.374/.554 for a 145 wRC+. Over 168 plate appearances with the Red Sox he finished with a 161 wRC+.
A reunion with Boston is certainly not out of the question for Schwarber. The degree to which the Red Sox push for him to come back at least in part comes down to what decision Martinez makes, as both players are certainly better fits to take over the DH spot. That said, an outfield spot could feasibly be opened up for Schwarber with a trade, and he could again be pencilled in at first base where he played down the stretch. There were certainly growing pains at the new position, but a full offseason to work on his craft should make things at least a little better.
Boston will not be the only team going after Schwarber, though, and that’s especially true if the National League adopts the DH in a new CBA agreement, which is expected. With that in mind, it may be better for the Red Sox to try and get something done early before that decision is made official.