Red Sox

John Henry and Tom Werner make it official - Red Sox want to start cutting payroll

John Henry and Tom Werner make it official - Red Sox want to start cutting payroll

BOSTON -- Let the bloodletting begin.

It's hard to form any other takeaway after listening to Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner proclaim their desire to drop below the $208 million luxury-tax threshold for 2020.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since firing president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in early September, Henry made it clear that the team's bloated payroll must be trimmed.

"This year we need to be under the CBT [competitive balance tax] and that was something we've known for more than a year now," he said. "If you don't reset, there are penalties, so we've known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done."

With the correlation between spending and winning no longer as one-to-one as it was 15 years ago, the Red Sox see an opportunity to get leaner. As it stands now, their hands are largely tied by the $80 million annually they've committed to unreliable starters Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi. Meanwhile, the A's and Rays are headed to the postseason despite two of the bottom-six payrolls in baseball.

Though Henry and Werner left open the possibility of spending beyond the tax, their intentions sounded pretty clear.

"One of the things we observe and I think we all observe is, first of all, there are teams that make the postseason with half the payroll the Red Sox have," Werner said. "Look at the success Oakland has had this year and the Milwaukee Brewers. And we have resources. And I would just like to say that while we would like to get under the competitive balance tax threshold, we have had years we've been above it, we've had years where we were below it. There may be certain circumstances that we exceed it. Obviously, there are penalties to exceeding it, but it's not that we go into a room and say it has to be a certain dollar number."

Added Henry: "I want to answer by saying our real intention is to be competitive every year and we'll do whatever we have to do to do that. The solution to that isn't always having the highest payroll in baseball."

The task of dropping below $208 million is a daunting one. The Red Sox have about $220 million committed to 16 players, assuming they keep each of their arbitration-eligible players except catcher Sandy Leon and Steven Wright, extend or got to arbitration with Betts, and retain DH J.D. Martinez.

That includes second baseman Dustin Pedroia ($13.75 million), whose career is almost certainly over, and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who is due more than $10 million in arbitration and could be jettisoned.

The Red Sox won't keep all 16 of those players, though. Betts could be traded, though Werner said the two sides have spoken and that the team is still holding out hope he can be extended. Martinez could also opt out of his deal and walk away for virtually nothing.

Even without their roughly $50 million on the books, the Red Sox would still have a hard time staying under $208 million. Their offseason wish list could include a starter to replace Rick Porcello, depth to support the top three starters in case of injury, a first baseman, a second baseman, multiple relievers, and maybe an outfielder if Betts is dealt.

As we wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Red Sox spent more than $240 million last year and will be in that range again this year. If they spend beyond the tax threshold again in 2020, they'll trigger the most onerous penalties, with a tax of 50 percent on every dollar spent over $208 million, 95 percent on every dollar over $248 million, and a sliding scale in between. They could end up making a tax payment of more than $20 million.

They want to reset all of those penalties, and there's only one way to do it -- start hacking off some limbs.

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Manny Ramirez: Getting busted for PEDs 'made me grow up'

Manny Ramirez: Getting busted for PEDs 'made me grow up'

Manny Ramirez's use of performance-enhancing drugs during his career may have cost him a shot at a Hall of Fame induction, but he doesn't have any regrets.

The former Boston Red Sox slugger opened up about his two failed PED tests during the 18th annual Tradition at TD Garden. He believes his mistakes helped him grow as a person.

"I ask myself ... it was a good thing for me, because it make me grow up," Ramirez said. "Maybe a lot of people didn't get caught, and they doing maybe so many crazy stuff that they not learning from it. So I think everything happens for a reason, and everything is working for the good.

"I'm in a better place that I haven't been, even when I was playing, so I don't regret it because it make me grow up."

Watch the video below, courtesy of WFXT's Tom Leyden:

As for other players who have been caught or suspected of using PEDs, Ramirez still believes one day they'll make their way into the Hall. The 47-year-old likens the situation to that of Pete Rose, who currently is ineligible for Cooperstown due to his ban from the league in 1986.

"It's the same thing, like, with Pete Rose. That's it. Let the guy get in. That's it," Ramirez said. "Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes every day. Everybody make it. But we gotta keep moving, so what else can you do?"

Ramirez is one of several former Red Sox to be on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot. The others are Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Billy Wagner, Carlos Pena, and Brad Penny.

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Yankees release former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury

Yankees release former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury

The New York Yankees finally made the decision to move on from former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The 36-year-old hadn't played for the team since 2017 while dealing with a plethora of injuries including oblique, back, hip, and foot maladies.

Ellsbury originally signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees before the 2014 season. Over the course of six years, he played in 520 games for the team and hit .264 with 39 homers before being released on Wednesday.

Red Sox fans will remember Ellsbury for the excellent years he put together in Boston including his second-place finish in the 2011 MVP race and his starting role on the improbable 2013 World Series Champion teams.

Ellsbury also had one of the greatest straight steals of home plate in 2009 against the Yankees. During that season, Ellsbury led the MLB with an absurd 70 steals.

The Yankees' decision to part with Ellsbury came as a part of changes to their 40-man roster. MLB teams had until Wednesday night to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft by placing them on the 40-man roster.

The Yankees certainly aren't happy with the return on investment they got with the Ellsbury deal, and the Red Sox actually may have benefitted more from his departure.

As Barstool Sports' Jared Carrabis pointed out on Twitter, they received a compensatory first-round pick for losing Ellsbury that they used on Michael Kopech. Kopech became one of the centerpieces of the Chris Sale trade, a move that helped the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series.

So too did the postseason performance of Jackie Bradley Jr., the 2018 ALCS MVP who was the replacement for Ellsbury in centerfield in 2014.

Given that Ellsbury hasn't played an MLB game in two years, it's hard to imagine him ending up somewhere else. Nonetheless, we'll keep an eye on the former Red Sox outfield as the MLB hot stove starts to warm up a bit.

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