It was the right decision last winter, it remains the right decision now, and it most definitely will be the right decision in 2014. As much as many fans hate to hear it, the Red Sox did the right thing by letting Victor Martinez walk.

Martinez returned to Fenway Park last night for the first time since signing a four-year, $50?million contract with the Detroit Tigers to open the offseason. He arrived with exactly the kind of numbers for the Tigers as he delivered in his year and a half with the Sox, batting .317 with four home runs and 23 RBI.

Red Sox catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, meanwhile, were at .203 with one homer and 14 RBI combined.

This juxtaposition alone is proof to many that the Sox screwed up.

Doesn't matter. Whatever short-term bump the Red Sox could have received with Martinez in the lineup would have been completely mitigated by the long-term drag his presence would have taken on the lineup and payroll.

Which is not to say that Martinez wished to leave. He'd have re-signed here in a heartbeat.

"Definitely," Martinez said. "Like I say, my wife, my kids, all my family and myself, we did everything we could to come back. That's the sad part of the game. It is what it is. That's the business part. We've got to move on."

The Red Sox made that decision for him, and it's wise that the ballclub did.

For one thing, Martinez isn't even a catcher anymore, at least as far as the Tigers are concerned. He has caught eight games and served as the designated hitter for 20, including last night's contest.