Red Sox Future holds major questions regarding players and the payroll for 2020 and beyond
There is no question that the Boston Red Sox have one of the better teams in the MLB right now. Personally I think the Red Sox have the best team in the AL and the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs have the best squad in the National League. The Sox are home to Rick Porcello, David Price, & Chris Sale as their top three starters. No other team has that kind of 1-2-3 punch in the AL. The Chicago Cubs have Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, & Kyle Hendricks with Jason Hammel & former Red Sox John Lackey not too far behind representing the best in the NL.
The Red Sox have a great young, elite set of players that have come up through their system and are finally starting to blossom. The Cubs will have the same issue in a few years. The Sox in 2016 had an opening day payroll of just south of $198 million with the Cubs opening at $171.6 million. David Ortiz & Clay Buchholz’s contracts are both off the books saving the Sox $29 million for the upcoming season. The Sox will save a further $12,375,000 with Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa finding new homes. That clears up $41,375,000 for new salaries.
Chris Sale will make $12 million for this upcoming season. The Sox last season paid Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., & Mookie Betts a combined $1,762,500. For 2017, everyone got pay days. Bogaerts is scheduled to make $4,500,000, JBJ will make $3,600,000. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi’s numbers still haven’t been determined. So far that’s $20,100,000 to three players.
The upcoming issue for the Sox, will be figuring out how to make all of the contracts fit under the luxury cap. Perhaps the Sox can convince their young players to take a hometown discount so that they can keep their championship caliber team together for the long haul. The Cardinals haven’t overpaid for players traditionally and it’s worked out great for them. Adam Wainwright is their highest salary for the upcoming season at $19.5 million. Newly acquired Dexter Fowler will make $16.5 million.
It might be more difficult to convince our great players like Betts, JBJ, & Bogaerts to take a hometown discount, since the Sox just overpaid to get David Price for 7yrs/$210 million, before the 2016 season. I also don’t think Scott Boras is going to forget how he does his job for his clients i.e. Bogaerts and JBJ. With that said, the Red Sox are going to be posed with a rather interesting contractual situation in a few years.
When looking at the salaries of David Price $30 million, Hanley Ramirez $22.75 million, Rick Porcello $20.125 million, Pablo Sandoval $17.6 million, Dustin Pedroia $15.125 million, Craig Kimbrel $13.25 million and Chris Sale $12 million, that totals out to $130.85 million on seven players alone. That’s rough. That means we’re spending almost $18.7 million per player. That’s not going to cut it. Dombrowski should see that unless we get people at bargain prices. Yes the Sox did resign some key players from 2016, getting Sandy Leon for $1.3 million, Bob Workman for $635,000 and Brock Holt for $1.95 million.
The Yankees are gearing up for the offseason after this upcoming year when the bulk of their big contracts will be dead. The Yankees will shed $83+ million in players that have retired. The Sox won’t be able to go on a spending spree until 2020. At that time Xander Bogaerts will become a free agent and will undoubtedly be one of the most highly sought after players. Yes, some of our bigger contracts will be done, thank goodness. Before the 2017 season started I was hoping the Sox would have signed one of their future guys to a big contract extension. It didn’t happen. Players knew their value and wanted to see what they could get.
Yes, long term contracts are dangerous. Yes, long term contracts could burn a team. Yes, it is the right thing to do for Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. The projections of total damage in money of what these players are going to command long term in a few years is going to be worse than signing them to a long term deal now. Some may see this as crazy but give Bogaerts and Betts, the true faces of the Red Sox future, matching contracts or something similar to one another. Saying they’re the future is one thing, now we have to show them. The time to lock them up is now.