Mookie Betts takes a selfie with fans Sunday on the Fenway Park warning track before what might have been his last game with the Red Sox. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The baseball season in Boston went out with a bang over the weekend, with midsummer weather and a walk-off win. It was a fitting end to “Fan Appreciation Weekend,” with Mookie Betts sliding into home plate after a mad dash around from first base on Rafael Devers’ single in the bottom of the ninth.

Betts and others began the day taking selfies with fans on the Fenway Park warning track. Earlier in the weekend they were out at various gates greeting fans entering the ballpark.

That’s how it goes in baseball. You spend the final weekend of the season getting ready for meaningful games in October or signing autographs at Gate D, thanking fans for supporting the team through a disappointing season.

Moments after sliding into home, Betts addressed the remaining fans at Fenway. “Thank you guys for being here all year,” said Betts. “We’ll go get them in 2020.”

The crowd roared its approval, because many of us were unsure if Betts would be back in 2020. We still are. Over the weekend team ownership talked about getting under baseball’s Competitive Balance Tax for next season. That would mean a significant reduction in payroll and a significant challenge in bringing both Betts and J.D. Martinez (who can opt out of his contract) back next year.

“It will be difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts that we have in place,” Red Sox President/CEO Sam Kennedy said during the team’s postseason media briefing Monday.

Kennedy was quick to stress that the Red Sox are not fully committed to lowering the payroll. That will be determined by numerous factors, including whether Martinez opts out of his contract to test the free-agent waters.

“If there are strategic decisions that cause us to go over, then that could be a possibility,” said Kennedy. “We could be under. There are lots of decisions facing the Red Sox this offseason. It’s a goal but not a hard-and-fast mandate.”

Those decisions, at least at the start of the offseason, will be made by the “Gang of Four” currently running baseball operations. Assistant general managers Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran, Zack Scott and Senior VP of Major and Minor League Operations Raquel Ferreira have worked together for more than a decade. All four said their close relationships have allowed them to head into this offseason with confidence, even though they are unsure who the new chief executive of the department will be.

The Red Sox won’t be able to make any significant moves until they know the status of J.D. Martinez for the 2020 season. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Adding to that confidence is that this group has been through tough times in the past, including three last-place finishes in four seasons from 2012-15. The exception in that stretch was 2013, when the Sox won the World Series. It’s a reminder that a team can turn things around quickly.

First the Red Sox must figure out who’s coming back and who’s not. And that process begins with a decision out of their control. Martinez has until early November to inform the team if he’s going to call Fenway his home next season. Then, and only then, can the real reconstruction of the Red Sox begin.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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