A specter of a financial storm will hang over the 2019 season as the Boston Red Sox will be faced with hard payroll decisions when the season ends.
A business will have a strategic plan that will project both short and long-term goals. The expected minutia will be incorporated on growth, expenses, market conditions and so on. The Red Sox do exactly the same, but for fans, the most important consideration is the employees of the team and that focus is on players.
The crunch time will be after the completion of the 2019 season and the two big pitching names are Chris Sale and Rick Porcello. Just how much of a financial impact depends on the needs of the team, player performance, and the damnable luxury tax. And I do not wish to think about a potential opt-out for you know who.
If Sale is the Sale we have seen in the past then expect the starting point to be a David Price like contract and that will mean another member of the $30 MM club on the team with Mookie Betts waiting in the wings. Porcello could conceivably be in his current $20 MM range per season so a choice may have to be made. A fiscal Sophie’s Choice.
Then there is Xander Bogaerts who may be at his tender age looking for a contract that would be similar to the one doled out to Eric Hosmer and that is eight years at $144 MM. Bogaerts – playing a key position – may actually have the Hosmer deal on the low-end of his reward for being a free agent.
The Red Sox have lesser choices that will be hitting the open market such as Mitch Moreland and World Series hero Steve Pearce. Both certainly proved far more valuable that Hosmer who had some love from the locals before signing with the Padres.
When you look at payroll for 2020 the luxury tax penalties start to kick in at a higher rate – the proverbial paying for the cow and not getting any milk. As 2019 season moves forward expect the debate to intensify or just who stays and who goes. If the Red Sox fade a bit you could conceivably see a fire sale or at least a brush fire sale. If the Red Sox do as expected and stay firmly in contention for another title then the debate will be on choices.
The obvious way to avoid the entire problem is to simply bite the financial bullet and accept the penalties of an exorbitant payroll. Would they do it? Remember this is a team that was willing to pay a $31.5 MM penalty for signing Yoan Moncada and a fee of $51 MM for signing Daisuke Matsuzaka. They just might do it.
In the meantime talk of payroll and the ensuing tidal wave of a fiscal storm can be put on the back shelf as we collectively enjoy another title run, but eventually, it will surface. That surfacing will happen with or without success.