The Boston Red Sox kept their payroll below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold in 2017 because they chose not to sign a replacement for DH David Ortiz after he retired.
The club avoided (and reset) tax penalties for staying under the CBT. It also received its full revenue sharing market disqualification refund.
Boston succeeded from a business perspective. But its offense suffered greatly during the 2017 season.
With Ortiz in 2016, the Red Sox led the major leagues in batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.348), slugging percentage (.461), OPS (.810), doubles (343), runs (878), total bases (2,615) and extra-base hits (576).
In 2017 without Ortiz or any adequate replacement, the Sox finished 13th in batting average (.258), 11th in on-base percentage (.329), 26th in slugging percentage (.407), 22nd in OPS (.736), seventh in doubles (302), 10th in runs (785), 22nd in total bases (2,305) and 22nd in extra-base hits (489).
Don’t let history repeat itself.
The Red Sox want their payroll under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold ($208 million) again in 2020. Owner John Henry and team president Sam Kennedy have stressed it’s a goal, not a mandate.
“There may be strategic reasons this offseason to be over that we might not be aware of yet,” Kennedy said Sept. 30.
Designated hitter J.D. Martinez has an opt-out clause in his contract he can exercise after the World Series ends. There’s a decent chance he’ll elect to become a free agent.
If he does opt out, the Red Sox should make every attempt possible to re-sign him.
Boston didn’t attempt to sign then-free agent Edwin Encarnacion during the 2016-17 offseason after Ortiz retired.
Four Red Sox prospects — infielders Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham and pitchers Tanner Houck and Noah Song — were named to the Team USA roster for next month’s Premier 12 tournament Thursday.
All four prospects will compete in the 12-team tournament, which begins Nov. 2 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics. Team USA’s 28-man roster is made up of players not currently on 40-man rosters, meaning many top prospects will take part.
Dalbec (Boston’s No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) spent a week working out with the major league team in Boston last month to prepare for the tournament and both Houck (No. 5 prospect) and Chatham (No. 9) are playing in the Arizona Fall League. Song (No. 15), who was Boston’s fourth-round pick in this year’s draft out of Navy, was supposed to begin military service in November and is a surprise addition to the tournament roster.
The Red Sox lead the league in prospects playing for Team USA and will likely have other players competing for other countries. Lefty Dedgar Jimenez will try out for the Venezuelan team and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin is expected to compete for Taiwan while lefty Daniel McGrath (Australia) will not pitch after having a heavy workload during the regular season.
The Premier 12 tournament is a round-robin tournament sponsored by the World Baseball and Softball Confederation that takes place from Nov. 2-17. South Korea won the inaugural event in 2015.
Sox slashing 2020 payroll under $208M means greater revenue sharing refund, including A’s money
The Red Sox want to keep their payroll under the $208 million Competitive Balance Threshold in 2020 but it’s only a goal but not a mandate.
The Indians signed Encarnacion — who’s now with the Yankees — to a very reasonable three-year, $60-million contract with a $20 million option and $5 million opt-out clause for 2020. Encarnacion has 104 homers in three seasons.
Again: Don’t let history repeat itself.
The Red Sox wasted the 2017 season after trading for ace Chris Sale at the 2016 Winter Meetings.
The 2017 season marked Sale’s only completely healthy year in a Red Sox uniform to date. But the Red Sox did nothing about the glaring hole at DH. Everyone saw it coming, right? Chris Young (.235/.322/.387/.709 line) started 24 games at DH.
Boston planned tor Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez to platoon at first base. The team wanted Ramirez to start at first base vs. lefties and DH vs. righties. The Red Sox planned to use a rotation of players at DH when Ramirez played first. But Ramirez started only 17 games at first because of an ailing shoulder.
Boston is unsure whether the Martinez plans to elect for free agency. Kennedy wouldn’t answer whether the Red Sox plan to try to re-sign Martinez if he does opt out.
“I wouldn’t want to comment about what we would or wouldn’t do with respect to opt-outs and or anything like that just given the truth is we don’t know at this point,” Kennedy said (Sept. 30).
Kennedy has said there’s a way for Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez both to be on the 2020 roster while keeping the payroll under $208 million.
“But obviously it will be difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts that we have in place,” Kennedy said. “Look, we have a very targeted and strategic plan that we’re building right now.”
That strategic plan should include either re-signing Martinez (if he opts out) or finding a comparable replacement.
Payroll is overrated. The Rays and A’s continue to show us a club doesn’t need a high payroll to win. But Martinez has proved he can thrive in this market. The Red Sox shouldn’t just let that caliber of hitter walk away to slash payroll.
“You want J.D. Martinez in the middle of your lineup,” Kennedy said. “He’s a World champ and was a key part of last year’s success. So we’ll see where it goes in the future. But we haven’t engaged on any specific discussions. And we know there’s a timetable on it; five days after the World Series. So he’ll let us know of his decision.”