Boston Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski revealed Thursday that the team has an internal deadline on extension talks and will not negotiate such deals after Opening Day on March 28.
"We're focused on winning this year. I think the players are into that," Dombrowski told Jon Heyman of MLB Network. "Unless something unexpected happens, we're not going to do anything once the season starts."
The Red Sox have multiple players on their roster who would appear to be ideal candidates for long-term extensions that would cover future years of their free agency. Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and Xander Bogaerts are all poised to hit the open market next winter, while J.D. Martinez can opt out of his five-year deal after the season (Martinez has another two opt-outs in the years that follow).
Other potential extension candidates include all three members of their outfield - Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts - who are all still under team control. Boston could potentially offer any of those three extensions to buy out their future free-agent years, although Betts confirmed this week he already turned down a $200-million offer with an eye on free agency in 2021.
The Red Sox - who own the league's highest payroll by a wide margin - just finished paying off a historic luxury-tax bill after finishing $40 million above the tax threshold in 2018, and Dombrowski acknowledged this will likely result in some of these players leaving.
"We know we won't be able to keep all of them under today's system and finances," he said.
Sale revealed earlier this month that he and the Red Sox are discussing "different scenarios" for a possible extension, though there's been no update on that front.
The Red Sox do not appear to have had talks with any of their other pending free agents or controllable players, though Dombrowski said he's "hopeful" that Martinez will not opt out.