DENVER — Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez punched in for his fourth-career All-Star Game as part of a contingent of Sox players in the Mile High City for the Midsummer Classic.
Martinez is hitting .299/.371/.556 with 18 homers and a .926 OPS. He remains one of the best designated hitters in baseball a month shy of his 34th birthday, a fixture in the middle of the Red Sox order.
But for how long?
Martinez has yet another opt-out in his deal at the end of this year, meaning he could leave $19.35 million for the 2022 season on the table and become a free agent. The open market could become even more enticing for Martinez with the strong possibility of the DH role extending to the National League next season.
“It’s something that’s a player’s choice,” said Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, on Monday. “And that’s the reason we did it. I’m sure he’ll view those things at the season’s end — you always wait till the season’s end — to deliberate those things.”
The timing of it all is a bit tricky. Martinez will have to make a decision on if he wants to opt-out at the conclusion of the World Series. That figures to be before a resolution on a new collective bargaining agreement, which would include a decision on expanding the DH rule. The current CBA expires on Dec. 1.
Boras made a case for Martinez in the outfield, calling him a capable defender, but it also might be Boras’s way of trying to increase his player’s value.
Martinez said he likes playing in the outfield and believes he got pigeon-holed into being a DH once injuries hit him prior to joining the Sox. Nevertheless, he believes a universal DH should be a part of both leagues.
“I think it’ll be good for the game, you know, the game is constantly searching for offense,” Martinez said. “I think owners want it. I think teams want to protect the pitchers. I think fans want it. . . . I don’t know. I just think it’s going to level the playing field more.”
An admirer of Devers
Padres third baseman Manny Machado is no stranger to the AL East, having played parts of his first seven seasons in the big leagues with the Orioles. He’s also no stranger to Rafael Devers, and is enjoying the growth he’s seen in the third baseman.
“It’s just been awesome,” Machado said. “And I saw him come up as a rookie and do the things he was knowing at that age. I knew he was special. It’s paying off.
“I know what he’s doing out there, creating that tune with that group of guys that they have there. It’s been fun to watch, man. He’s defense has gotten a lot better and his hitting is through the roof.”
A draft connection
Three New Englanders were selected in the first round of the draft Sunday, the first time since Matt Barnes was a first-round pick by the Sox in 2011. Both Barnes and George Springer were selected out of UConn that year, and San Francisco pitcher Tyler Beede was taken out of Lawrence Academy in Groton. In rounds 2-10 this year, 12 players with New England ties were selected. Barnes, who is from Connecticut, was happy to see it. “I think it’s awesome,” said Barnes. “The northeast has kind of been under the radar for so long on baseball. There’s so many good players out of the northeast. We don’t play year-round. So, like, a lot of people don’t talk about us when you break it down” . . . MLB pledged up to $150 million to the Players Alliance, a nonprofit organization comprised of active and former major league players whose mission is to build more equitable systems in baseball and increase Black representation throughout the sport. “I’m very excited about this commitment from MLB,” free agent big league pitcher Edwin Jackson, who serves as secretary for the Players Alliance, told the Globe late Monday night. “It will be major for helping us do some amazing things within our communities to create inclusivity within our game” . . . Shohei Ohtani of the Angels drew the starting pitching nod for the American League, the two-way star to be opposed in Tuesday night’s game by Max Scherzer of Washington, making his fourth career All-Star Game start.