Pardon me while I heave into my official, team-sponsored 2020 Red Sox barf bag.
I have been following the Sox since 1962 and never found a Red Sox offseason more odious. Granted, it’s still early, but this has potential to be the worst Sox winter of all time. Four days of Big Nothing at the Winter Meetings only fortifies the financial teardown and impending Bridge Year that awaits.
This offseason narrative stinks. In the old days, we talked about ballplayers as trading cards. It was exciting if the Sox dealt Don Schwall for Dick Stuart, or Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi for Lee Smith. We got fired up about the Local Nine acquiring Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, and Chris Sale in offseason blockbuster signings/deals.
Today? We have the skull-imploding story line of “creative” team building and a “cost-efficient” roster.
A team could not try any harder to kill fan interest in the market.
Please, make it stop. This is not why we got into sports. This is not what the hot stove season is supposed to be. This is bean-counting, nerd-indulging Geeks Gone Wild.
The Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract, and the Red Sox answer with more pledges to lop $35 million from their payroll.
The Sox finished 19 games behind the Yankees in 2019. New York just signed the best pitcher in baseball to a $324 million deal and we’re supposed to be celebrating because Chaim Bloom trimmed Sandy Leon’s $2 million from the payroll.
Seriously. The Red Sox are asking you to cheer for careful management of the luxury-tax threshold by a young baseball boss who learned from the masters of cheap: the vaunted Tampa Bay Rays.
It’s just so dry and rational. And it has nothing to do with acquiring talented stars. Fans are asked to root for the Sox to find cheap nuggets at the bottom of the talent pool. We are told that it will be a good thing if the Sox can dump David Price and get someone to take Andrew Benintendi off their hands to sweeten the hardship of assuming Price’s contract.
I hate it. This is not a hot stove winter. This is a hot air winter. And I’m not buying.
Day after day. Luxury-tax threshold. The Red Sox’ stated goal is to get from $243.5 million to $208 million. That means shedding Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez, and probably a starting pitcher. Which does not make the team better for 2020.
I’ve never seen a Boston team work harder to get fans behind a cost-cutting program. Imagine if the Bruins tried this? The Patriots?
I read that getting under the luxury-tax threshold could save the ball club $90 million-$100 million over a three-year period when revenue sharing is factored into the equation. Swell. When did fans start worrying about ownership’s revenue-sharing ratios?
We understand the reality of the situation. Competitive penalties connected with being over the threshold are a serious matter and impact the product on the field. Unfortunately, it’s become virtually impossible to comprehend the potential punishments if the Sox don’t pare enough payroll.
The Globe’s Alex Speier, our own Stat Masterson, wrote a very fine explanation of the consequences earlier this week, and it made my hair hurt. There were passages about slow threshold growth, higher taxes, draft/international signing penalties, lowered compensation for losing free agents (Betts, for example), draft pick penalties, and the dreaded revenue sharing.
Speier explained, “If the Sox go past the luxury-tax threshold in 2020 with Mookie Betts on the roster, watch Betts leave in free agency after the season, and to sign [for instance] fellow free agent George Springer to replace him, the team would have to give up a second- and fifth-round pick while also losing $1 million in international bonus pool money to add Springer. If the Sox wanted to sign Springer after staying below the threshold in 2020, their penalty would be a second-round pick and $500,000 in international pool money.’’
Thanks, Alex. Anybody out there still following?
Like the late Lou Gorman, it just makes me want to give up and have lunch.
The rules are the rules, of course, and the Sox are smart to hire a young guy who can work within those rules. But let’s not forget that Sox owners last winter helped put themselves in this horrible bind by agreeing to reckless handouts to World Series heroes Sale (6-11 in 2019), Nathan Eovaldi (2-1 in 2019), and Steve Pearce (.180, one homer in 2019). Blame Dave Dombrowski if you want. John Henry agreed to it.
So now we talk about slow threshold growth instead of trading Manny for A-Rod, and Nomar to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez.
That was fun.
This is Algebra 2 homework.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org