BOSTON — Takeaways from the season wrap-up at Fenway Park on Monday that included CEO Sam Kennedy, manager Alex Cora, and the Gang of Four running baseball operations . . .
— There was a fair amount of backtracking from John Henry's contention last week that the Red Sox would like to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold and reset the team's penalty schedule. Kennedy and assistant GMs Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran each sounded the same theme.
"It's a goal, not a mandate," Kennedy said.
That said, with big-market powerhouses like the Dodgers and Yankees managing to find their way under the threshold in recent seasons — the Red Sox dropped below it themselves as recently as 2017 — the Red Sox see no reason why they can't get creative with their payroll and do the same.
— One player who wouldn't appear to fit under that plan is defending MVP Mookie Betts, who ended up putting together a pretty decent follow-up campaign, all things considered. Kennedy acknowledged the challenges of keeping him long-term, but made it clear the team will try.
The same goes for slugging DH J.D. Martinez. Kennedy was asked if there's a way to keep both of them and remain under $208 million.
"Yes, there's a way," he said. "There's a way. But obviously, it will be difficult."
— Cora has not made any decisions on his coaching staff yet, but after winning only 84 games, sounded like someone preparing to move in a different direction.
"I don't know what kind of changes we're going to make," he said, adding that all of the coaches will be in town for meetings before any decisions are made.
— Left-hander Chris Sale still isn't throwing, on advice of the medical staff, as the Red Sox take his recovery slowly. Originally scheduled for a six-week followup with Dr. James Andrews, the two sides haven't yet scheduled that visit.
"At this point we expect him to be healthy coming into spring training along with the rest of the rotation that we have under control," O'Halloran said.
As for neither Sale nor fellow left-hander David Price making themselves available to reporters over the final month of the season despite interest in their respective rehabs, Cora said he would've preferred that they talk.
But he also recognizes that "it gets to the point with them where they're so frustrated with what's going on."
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