Red Sox

John Henry insists Mookie Betts trade wasn't driven by desire to cut payroll

John Henry insists Mookie Betts trade wasn't driven by desire to cut payroll

The Boston Red Sox continue to do damage control after trading away their franchise player.

Many have criticized the Red Sox for dumping outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price on the Los Angeles Dodgers as a means to get under Major League Baseball's competitive balance tax for 2020.

Principal owner John Henry has deep pockets, after all -- Forbes recently listed his Fenway Sports Group empire as the third-wealthiest sports group in the world at $6.6 billion -- so why couldn't the club shell out a little more money to sign Betts to an extension before he hit free agency in 2021?

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In a recent interview with The Boston Globe's Michael Silverman, Henry defended the team's decision to trade Betts and insisted critics are too focused on his September 2019 comments admitting the Red Sox need to be under the CBT in 2020.

"You’re hung up on CBT," Henry told Silverman. "You see this and I think the media, too, to some extent, ever since we mentioned that clubs have a tendency to get below CBT once in a while."

"It’s surprising that anyone would think we would outspend every other team in baseball every single year. To me, that’s a little surprising. Clubs have to make difficult decisions, and one of the biggest decisions they have to make is, ‘Do we potentially let a great player walk away for very little compensation?’ That’s one of the decisions that you have to make irrespective of CBT – it has nothing to do with CBT."

The Red Sox paid a $13.4 million luxury tax bill for 2019 after boasting the highest payroll in baseball and haven't ranked lower than fifth in spending among MLB clubs under Henry's tenure.

They're not always the highest-spending club, though: Boston has topped the CBT 10 times in the last 17 years, while the rival New York Yankees have exceeded the CBT in every year during that span.

But Henry insisted the luxury tax was "only an element" in trading Betts, and that the Red Sox' return of outfielder Alex Verdugo, infield prospect Jeter Downs and catcher prospect Connor Wong will be better for the club in the long run.

"Maybe you and others at this point undervalue the baseball side of the deal," Henry told Silverman. "We have balance, and not just this year."

That "balance" likely won't lead to more wins in 2020, but Henry seems adamant trading Betts was the right move for the franchise in the long-term -- financials notwithstanding.

Chaim Bloom estimates when Chris Sale could return from Tommy John surgery

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File Photo

Chaim Bloom estimates when Chris Sale could return from Tommy John surgery

Chris Sale turned 31 on Monday. He also had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow on that same day. The procedure will sideline him for at least the rest of the 2020 season and beyond. 

But when exactly can we expect Sale back? Boston Red Sox chief of baseball operations, Chaim Bloom, wouldn't confirm to an exact date, but he did provide some insight into how long Sale might be sidelined.

"We don't know exactly," Bloom said, per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. "Typically you see around that 14-15 month range."

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Okay, so maybe that's not the most specific answer, but it at least gives us a ballpark idea of when Sale could return.

A 14-15 month recovery period would have Sale return sometime between early June and early July in 2021, if his recovery goes well. Of course, there are so many variables to take into account about how Sale may be progressing but also about how the Sox may be faring. If they aren't doing well, the team could take an extremely cautious approach with Sale in hopes of having him fully healthy for the 2022 season.

But Bloom's estimate at least gives Sox fans an initial target for Sale's potential return. The target date will certainly be fluid especially considering that some pitchers take 18 months to return from the surgery.

But no matter what, Sale won't be suiting up for the Red Sox until mid-2021 at the earliest. And that's bad news for the squad considering their lack of starting pitching depth.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale officially undergoes Tommy John surgery

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File Photo

Red Sox ace Chris Sale officially undergoes Tommy John surgery

Chris Sale's long road to recovery from a pesky elbow injury began on Monday.

The Boston Red Sox officially announced that Sale underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday to reconstruct the UCL in his throwing arm. Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery.

The Red Sox and Sale decided that he would need to have the surgery about a week and a half ago. The coronavirus crisis made it a bit uncertain as to when Sale would be able to have the procedure done, but now, it is in the books.

Sale won't pitch at all in 2020 and it's likely that he will miss time in 2021 as well. In fact, he could miss that whole season given that a typical recovery from Tommy John surgery takes about 18 months.

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Either way, the Red Sox will be without Sale long-term and as a result, their starting rotation looks very thin. Eduardo Rodgriguez will slot in as the team's ace while Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez are the Nos. 2 and 3 starters respectively.

The other two rotation spots are up for grabs but before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was assumed that Ryan Weber had the inside track for the fourth starter position. The fifth starter role was much less settled and the team may have used an opener strategy given their lack of starting pitching depth.

Without Sale, the Red Sox will likely have to rely a lot on their offense to carry them to victory moving forward. But we won't get a chance to see how they look until the MLB returns. And at this point in time, it's unclear when that may be.