With Sunday marking five days after the conclusion of the World Series, it was the deadline for a whole lot of contract decisions to be made by both players and teams before the offseason can get started in earnest on Monday. (Well, maybe or maybe not depending on how the CBA affects things.) Any team or player options in a contract for 2022 had to be decided by Sunday evening, as did whether or not a qualifying offer would be extended to impending free agents. We covered J.D. Martinez’ decision to not opt out, but that was just one of multiple bits of Boston Red Sox news that came down the wire over the weekend. We’ll cover the rest here.
Eduardo Rodriguez extended qualifying offer
Besides the Martinez move, this was probably the decision on Sunday that had the least bit of clarity around it, though the odds were certainly leaning towards the lefty getting a qualifying offer. It was made official on Sunday, as Rodriguez was one of 14 players around the league to get a qualifying offer. This year, the offer is for $18.4 million over one year. A player can decide to take that offer or reject it, instead hitting the open market with draft pick compensation attached to them.
For the team, the decision as to whether or not to extend him an offer is an interesting one, even if it’s not terribly surprising. On the one hand, just looking at the results he does not look like he’d get anywhere near $18.4 million on the open market coming off a season with a 4.74 ERA. Of course, we know ERA is not always the most telling stat (especially when you pitch in front of this Red Sox defense), and Rodriguez did put up good peripherals, finishing the year with a 3.32 FIP. No pitcher with at least 150 innings had a larger gap between his ERA and FIP.
Now, the decision for Rodriguez as to whether or not to accept the offer is a very interesting one. On the one hand, pitcher health is always a question mark and there is certainly an argument to try and get a longer term deal now while you can. On the other hand, between his inconsistency in 2021 — even with the good peripherals, I don’t think you can say it was a good season — and the draft pick compensation attached the market may not be as robust as he would like.
There is an argument for him to take the one-year deal and hit the open market again next year. He’d be unencumbered by a draft pick compensation next winter (assuming similar rules apply in the new CBA, which is no sure thing), he would hopefully be more consistent and put up better results, and it would be a clearer market without labor strife and a possible lockout. Rodriguez has 10 days to decide whether or not he will take the offer.
Christian Vázquez’ option picked up
The Red Sox had to wait for J.D. Martinez’ opt out decision, holding no control in the matter, but they had three club options for which decisions had to be made. The most notable was for Vázquez, who had a $7 million team option. The catcher is coming off something of a disappointing season, following up a couple seasons of improved offense with a rough year at the plate in 2021. Over 498 plate appearances the veteran finished the year hitting .258/.308/.352 for a 77 wRC+, meaning he was 23 percent worse than the league-average hitter by that metric.
Despite that, it was likely a relatively easy decision for the Red Sox front office, as Vázquez has a track record as a good all-around catcher as well as relationships with Red Sox coaches and pitchers. He is the longest tenured player in the organization. Plus, while it would be great to upgrade behind the plate it is much easier said than done. No free agent represents a clear upgrade, and any that you would find on the trade market would cost a lot in prospects. I suspect Chaim Bloom and co. will keep their ear to the ground regarding potential trade targets, but there won’t be any sense of urgency. Vázquez will be a free agent after the 2022 season unless he and the team reach an extension.
Garrett Richards and Martín Pérez to be free agents
We’re grouping these last two together as the decision for each was not at all surprising and a foregone conclusion. Both Richards and Pérez started 2021 in the rotation for the Red Sox, and each actually had some solid runs in the first half. However, they also both ended up in the bullpen by the late summer. To be fair, Richards was solid in that role for a time, while Pérez held his own in a mop up/long relief role. Richards had a $10 million option with a $1.5 million buyout that he will receive instead, while Pérez will receive a $500,000 buyout instead of his $7 million option.