Red Sox Salary Dump

This is Boston right?

Jim Rome
February 05, 2020 - 10:38 am
Mookie Betts

USA Today


And then there is the Boston Red Sox side of things. And that is ugly. Really, really ugly. They just traded their best homegrown player in decades and what did they get in return? A nice player who was going to be LA’s third or fourth outfielder.

I’m going to read you some numbers on Mookie Betts and I want to underline this because I want people to be very clear about what the Red Sox just did. 

Mookie Betts made his major league debut in June 2014. Since that time, he leads baseball in runs and doubles. He was second in extra-base hits and fourth in total hits. In all of baseball.

He has been an All-Star every year since 2016, a gold glove winner every year since 2016. And a silver slugger winner in three of those years. And the AL MVP, batting champ, and World Series winner in 2018. 

He is easily the most exciting and charismatic Red Sox player, and he was all theirs. They drafted him. He came up through their farm system. He won a World Series with them. And now he’s gone.

Check that, he’s gone, and David Price is gone with him, and they’re going to send millions of dollars as well. 

But it’s not all bad news, Red Sox fans. Your organization just embarrassed itself, but you got below the luxury tax threshold. Raise a pennant for that one and fire up “We All Love The Red Sox.”

Because that is awesome. I am so pumped that your Excel spreadsheets look good. Hell yes. Gas up the Duck Boats, we’re having a parade for being below the luxury tax threshold. 

Who needs to chase a World Series when you can chase really exciting things like resetting the penalty rate to the minimum! That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what gets me fired up.   

If you’re looking to inspire the next generation of baseball fans, do you want one of the most charismatic and exciting players in the game, a guy with a name that every kid loves to say? Nah, what kid is interested in that?

What kid gets excited about a player who can hit for the cycle and bring electricity every night? Nope. What the kids really connect with is accounting! 

Grand slams are boring. You know what’s exciting – maximizing revenue! Payroll flexibility!

R.B.I.? Pssst, please! R.O.I. is where it’s at.

ROI is the new RBI. 

Take a step back and this comes down to two things: either the Boston Red Sox couldn’t afford to pay Mookie Betts and that means baseball is in trouble. Or the Boston Red Sox didn’t want to pay Mookie Betts, and that means baseball is in trouble.

Because this isn’t some small market team giving up on an elite player. These are the Boston Red Sox. The Boston Freaking Red Sox. And they are waving the white flag. 

They are allegedly worth more than 3 billion dollars and they are trying like crazy to get under the luxury tax threshold.


Or greedy.

Or both. 

This isn’t some team that has been struggling for a long time. They won a World Series roughly 15 months ago.

And now it looks like they’re trading their best player in a fire sale. 

Actually, what it looks like is that they cheated their way to the 2018 World Series, got caught, and now they’re just giving up. What a couple of weeks it’s been for Red Sox fans. 

I’m not going to compare the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts to the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth, but it is the last time they traded a player this young and this good.  

And yes, I know the Red Sox farm system isn’t great and it needs replenishing, but they didn’t even accomplish that with this deal. 

I know that Betts seemed interested in testing free agency and that when the two sides had conversations about contracts, there was a huge gap between what the Red Sox offered and what Betts wanted.

But there is absolutely zero sympathy for the Red Sox here. Unless you have another Mookie Betts waiting, you hand the actual Mookie Betts a blank check. We aren’t talking about a really nice player here, we’re talking about a potential Hall of Famer. We’re talking retired jerseys. That’s the trajectory he was on.

And if you’re offering 300 million over 10 years and he wants 420 million over 12 years, allegedly, then you find a way to make that work. Because he is worth paying or overpaying for. But I’m not sure you can overpay for him. 

And if you offered him everything he wanted and he still didn’t want to stay, then someone somewhere failed because the entire point of having a baseball team is to get players like Mookie Betts. You want players like Mookie Betts and you want them to be in your lineup and wearing your jersey as long as possible.

You don’t trade them away in salary dumps. You don’t trade them away as the sweetener in a deal to get rid of David Price’s contract. 

Why bother having a team? Seriously. Why are you involved in baseball if you can’t either write the check to Betts or figure out how to keep him? What’s the point? Go do something else.

The point of baseball is to win games. At least it should be. The point of having a farm system is to develop players like Mookie Betts and then keep them. Not give them away in trades. 

I hate that I have to explain this, but it’s becoming a recurring thing in sports – if you own a team, you pay players. That’s how it goes. And you pay players what they’re worth. If you have one of the three best players in baseball, it would stand to reason that you will pay him one of the highest contracts in baseball.

And you will still come out ahead because of TV revenue, merchandise, ticket revenue, exorbitant concession stand prices. In baseball, the team is the house and the house always wins. Even if it complains that it’s not winning. 

The game is rigged and it is so rigged in favor of MLB teams, it’s not even funny. They hold the rights to players for a very long time, they manipulate service time and keep guys in the minors longer than they should so they can squeeze out more time on low-priced contracts. And then when it’s time to actually pay the players what they’re worth, they whine and complain about the luxury tax threshold, a luxury tax threshold that they imposed mind you, and try to dump them.

So you could sign him and pay him what he’s worth and be grown-ups about it, or you could trade him for a third outfielder and a guy who could be a decent arm. 

Maybe that arm turns out to be even better. And maybe the outfielder becomes a star. You still have to live with what you just did in trading the best homegrown player in decades. And if that trade wasn’t embarrassing enough as it was, they’re also giving the Dodgers money. They are paying Betts and Price to play for someone else. 

And you did it when he was 27 years old. We haven’t even seen the best of him. And now you won’t. And you don’t deserve to.