Red Sox

John Henry says Red Sox focused on competitiveness not salary cutting

John Henry says Red Sox focused on competitiveness not salary cutting

About that whole Red Sox cutting payroll thing?

Sox principal owner John Henry told the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy that the team is focused more on being competitive rather than getting under baseball's luxury tax - a.k.a. competitive balance tax - threshold of $208 million.

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"But this focus on CBT [competitive balance tax] resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox," Henry, who also owns the Globe, wrote to Shaughnessy in an email. "I think every team probably wants to reset at least once every three years — that’s sort of been the history — but just this week...I reminded baseball ops that we are focused on competitiveness over the next 5 years over and above resetting to which they said, ‘That’s exactly how we’ve been approaching it.’

This comes a few months after Henry said this at Sox ownership's end-of-the-season press conference:

"This year we need to be under the CBT and that was something we've known for more than a year now. 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."

The Sox had MLB's highest payroll last season of $228 million and consequently had to pay a $13.4 million luxury tax, well above what it cost the only other two teams that had to pay - the Cubs at $7.6M and Yankees at $6.7M. The Sox have paid more than $50M in luxury tax since the system began in 2003.

Chaim Bloom was hired away from the Tampa Bay Rays, who had MLB's lowest payroll at $67M, to become Red Sox chief baseball officer with the thought that he'd be directed to slash payroll. That fueled rumors of trades involving big-money stars Mookie Betts and David Price.

Henry downplayed any salary-cutting directive and told Shaughnessy in the email that his bringing up the CBT at the end-of-the-season press conference was not some inadvertent revelation. 

“You seem to think Chaim was brought in to reduce payroll. That has simply not been the way FSG [Fenway Sports Group, Henry's parent company of the Red Sox and English Premier League soccer's Liverpool FC] operates here or across the pond," Henry wrote. "We try to act responsibly so as to be consistently competitive. Your main point seems to be that I accidentally disclosed a secret plan but unlike you, I am honest about Sox issues. The question was asked and I answered it.’’

Henry's email comes within days of the Red Sox agreeing to a one-year, $27M contract with Betts on Friday to avoid arbitration. It's a record deal for an arbitration-eligible player. Betts, expected to command a multi-year deal worth $300M or more when he becomes a free agent after this season, is the third-highest paid player on the team. Pitchers Price ($32M and Chris Sale ($30M) top the payroll. 

 


 

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- For five hours on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, Red Sox players and coaches delivered basically the same message in regards to the 2018 cheating scandal: We're not at liberty to say anything until the league finishes its investigation.

And then J.D. Martinez stepped in front of the cameras.

The slugging DH, who earlier this offseason chose to remain in Boston rather than exercise an opt-out in his contract, minced no words when asked if the Red Sox did anything wrong during their championship 2018 season.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," he said of the investigation. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

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So he believes the team is innocent of the charges that it used the replay room to steal opposing signs in real time?

"I believe that, yes," Martinez said.

And what gives Martinez this confidence, despite a report to the contrary in The Athletic claiming that the Red Sox stole signs?

"Because I was in there," he said. "I saw what was. . . . Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better."

Martinez spoke without hesitation, and also saluted departed manager Alex Cora, while offering some insight into why Cora decided to leave the team.

"Kind of heartbroken about it," he said. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager that I've had. It's going to be tough."

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell would check a lot of the boxes the Red Sox would be looking for in their managerial search. The popular former Red Sox third baseman is a Cuban-American who speaks Spanish and English and is media-savvy as an analyst for the MLB Network. 

Still, there's one condition he has that will probably take Lowell out of the running. 

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The 2007 World Series MVP and 2018 inductee into the team's Hall of Fame has no managerial experience, but told WEEI's Rob Bradford in a text message, "I would love to if I knew it was just for a year and Cora was guaranteed to come back."

Alex Cora, a Red Sox teammate of Lowell's for three seasons (2006-08), was let go by on Tuesday after he was named as the central figure in Major League Baseball's investigation of sign-stealing by the Houston Astros when Cora was their bench coach in 2017. Cora is also alleged to have brought a similar system to Boston when he became manager before the 2018 season. MLB is continuing to investigate the allegations against the Red Sox and it will likely result in a suspension of one season or longer for Cora.

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a season by MLB and subsequently fired by Houston.

With Cora facing perhaps a longer punishment, or perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball -- and from Red Sox ownership's telling silence when asked if Cora would ever manage in the majors again -- Lowell's plan of temporarily filling in until Cora's return isn't likely to fly.