The Boston Red Sox have certainly stimulated conversation with recent news that three star players may be available. Is this a mixed message? Just what is the motivation?
Just what is going on in the decision bunker at Fenway Park? Pronouncements surfaced in November that the team was willing to exceed the luxury tax and actually add payroll. The test of this pudding came quickly when the Red Sox went all deep pockets and signed Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year and $67.5 MM contract. A lesser note was the resigning World Series MVP Steve Pearce to a one year deal. Then now.
Unless you have been held captive without communication or your cell phone charger is on the fritz the Red Sox have – and this is with the term “reportedly” – been seeking offers on Rick Porcello, Xander Bogaerts, and the ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley. Is this a fire sale or a repositioning?
The logic behind the three amigos mentioned is contract and free agency. Porcello is due $21 MM in 2019 and will be on the free agent market as will Bogaerts who will go through arbitration and get a nice fiscal kiss. Bradley will also be a free agent after the 2020 season so he is among the bobbles put forth to receive bids.
Just what will the Red Sox do with any costs savings? Is this the repositioning of payroll where money flows into bullpen pitching from rotation pitching? Is it just a corporate plan to minimize fiscal exposure with the handouts do the road to Chris Sale and Mookie Betts? And they are not alone since your players do mature – meaning adding service time – and get a bump via arbitration and eventually free agency. Needless to say, J.D. Martinez has an opt-out clause and another season like 2018 and J.D. would be fiscally irresponsible not to maximize at his baseball middle age.
What hits home but not a home run is replacement and Bogaerts has a big bat – a very big bat – .288/23/103 and a respectable defense. This is not exactly Sandy Leon swinging the lumber. And Porcello gives you innings, 30+ starts, and an ERA/FIP that hovers around 4.00. Bradley, we know about, as he circulates between a dud and incredible during the season with his main calling card being luxurious defense.
Just what direction will any return take? Are the Red Sox looking for a baseball version of a combo meal at a fast food restaurant? A prospect or two mixed in with a roster player low on the service time totem pole? Is this a fishing expedition is commencing with the Red Sox attempting to estimate value for three high-end contributors? Will, they cut bait or reel in a big one?
With each position you can build a replacement scenario, but for Bogaerts that most certainly would take a huge dose of PR and finding someone that actually comes even remotely close to his production. Good luck!
So is this a bait and switch tactic? The bait was hung out with a pledge to not be that concerned about payroll followed by the possibility that the Red Sox will become baseball Scrooge. The next few weeks should settle the debate as the winter meetings have built a foundation that may see dramatic changes or no changes.