The Red Sox baseball season has come to end. This season had many storylines, none more important than a team who could not get out of their own way. Coming off a World Series championship, many pundits and publications expected the Red Sox to repeat. What happened was a series of unfortunate events regarding injuries to key players. It was also a house of horrors for the dedicated fans who watched this team struggle from the first pitch of the season to the last pitch of the season.
We all know who the scapegoat for the season was? It was General Manager Dave Dombrowski, he was the first casualty. He was let go almost a month ago. It made sense at the time considering Dombrowski would not go and get a reliver to help bolster the bullpen. The guys the Red Sox did get this season were the other teams throw aways. The Andrew Cashner deal failed miserably, as did some of the other players signed as free agents. Chris Owings was signed by Boston after a failed with the Royals this season. After tearing it up in the minors, Owings could never find his footing in Boston and made little impact on the team.
Heading into the final series against the Orioles, team Owner John Henry held a press conference and said some very interesting things regarding the makeup of the team for the next few seasons. He mentioned how Dombrowski never bought into the vision of the Owners. Henry outlined that vision as getting below the luxury tax at all cost. If that was the directive from the ownership, it makes a ton of sense as to why Dombrowski was so reluctant to spend all of John Henry’s money this season.
If the main goal is to be under the luxury tax, that means many contracts are not going to be renewed. Rick Porcello, Eduardo Nunez, and Steve Pearce are free agents are going to surely come off the books this year. The comment also led to some speculation about the star player Mookie Betts. It should be no secret that Betts and the Red Sox have gotten nowhere in contract negotiations. It should also be noted that Mookie was not happy when the front office let Dombrowski go. Do not be surprised if Mookie Betts has played his last game in a Red Sox uniform.
The front office is prepared to not have Mookie in uniform next year. He does still have one more season on his contract, but it behooves the Red Sox to seek a trade for their star. While everyone wants to see the slugger in uniform next year, for one last shot at the title. If that happens the Red Sox will be caught with egg on their face as Mookie leaves in free agency and the Red Sox have nothing to show for it.
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John Henry and the rest of the front office are usually very active at the winter meetings. The Red Sox were able to get the Chris Sale deal done at the Winter Meetings. They reached out to JD Martinez and his camp during that time as well. It is going to be a great time to gauge the market on Betts. There will be a market and the Red Sox are going to be able to get virtually whatever they want for a player of his caliber. If losing Mookie wasn’t enough, could the Red Sox be in line to lose another star.
JD Martinez has been very vocal about his desire to not feel bogged down and tied to one place, no matter how much he likes it. The slugger looks to be another casualty of a huge Winter Meeting blockbuster. His contract is large and it would go a long way in ensuring the Red Sox reach their goal of competing under the luxury tax for next season.
If both Martinez and Betts are gone next year it is hard to envision a year in which the Red Sox return to the playoffs. Henry and Sam Kennedy wanted all the fans to know that it should not be treated as a bridge year, even though it may be tough sledding. Especially with the Yankees and Rays returning the bulk of their teams. Boston will still have a nice core of players returning, and they should be able to use some of the money saved from Betts and Martinez for a middle of the order bat.
Next years roster assuming Betts and Martinez are gone still has a good amount of thunder. The lineup will have Benintendi, Devers, Xander, Chavis, Vazquez and Marco Hernandez. The starting pitching should be much better especially if everyone is healthy. Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez round out a very strong rotation. There will be money available for a low-end starter and a few relievers.
Without any clues as to the new GM or as to who the Red Sox are going to receive as a potential return for Betts and Martinez it is hard to determine how far they will fall. Anytime you lose two players the caliber of your two stars the team is going to regress. Just how far remains to be seen.