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.

Latest reports on MLB negotiations don't bode well for 2020 season

Latest reports on MLB negotiations don't bode well for 2020 season

While the NBA gears up for a reported return in late July, Major League Baseball is still stuck in neutral.

MLB has rejected the MLB Players Association's proposal for a 114-game season in 2020 and doesn't plan to make a counter-offer, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported Wednesday.

The sticking point appears to be around player pay: The players agreed to prorated 2020 salaries in March but called for no additional salary cuts in their latest proposal, per The Athletic. MLB's proposal to the union last month, meanwhile, called for a "50-50 revenue split" between owners and players in an 82-game season.

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According to The Athletic, MLB is considering a season with as few as 50 games in front of no fans as a potential option but has not proposed that scenario to the union.

Yet multiple players recently told ESPN's Jeff Passan they're opposed to a shorter season, with one telling Passan, "We want to play more games, and they want to play less. We want more baseball."

The New York Post's Joel Sherman summed up the current state of negotiations Wednesday in a rather depressing tweet.

All hope isn't completely lost for the 2020 MLB season to happen amid the coronavirus pandemic, however. SNY's Andy Martino suggested MLB declining to counter the players' proposal could just be a negotiating tactic as the sides attempt to find common ground.

Still, it doesn't appear the league and the players are close to finding that common ground. And considering the Boston Red Sox had already played 59 regular-season games by this point last year, time is running out.

UPDATE (4:23 p.m. ET): MLB Network's Jon Heyman is a bit more optimistic about the league and the players working things out:

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Part 3, Numbers 50-26

With MLB players and owners struggling to come to terms on a return-to-play strategy for 2020, we're focusing on the actual players who will take the field when games eventually get back underway.

Over the next several weeks, NBC Sports Boston is counting down the Top 100 players for 2020. While our list won't include several aces who will definitely not play this season — Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, Luis Severino of the Yankees, and Chris Sale of the Red Sox — our countdown includes many other All-Stars.

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Red Sox closer Brandon Workman kicked off our list at No. 100, and our next group of 25 players included Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

As we continue our countdown and move into the Top 50, we find J.D. Martinez, who has broken out into a feared hitter after a slow start to his career. Released by the Astros before the 2014 season, he remade his approach, flourished with the Tigers and now has made back-to-back All-Star teams with the Sox. 

Now 32, he's an established veteran, but it's also possible the late bloomer is only early in his prime years. So where does he land on our Top 100?

Click here for Part 3 of our countdown of MLB's Top 100 players.