Red Sox

Mookie Betts and the Red Sox have four options to weigh this winter

Mookie Betts and the Red Sox have four options to weigh this winter

The Red Sox must determine how to proceed with Mookie Betts this winter, and fast.

If they're going to keep the former MVP, the sooner they know it the better, because fitting his $30 million into a $208 payroll will not only take some serious creativity, it will leave them rifling through clearance racks to fill the rest of the roster.

We are all aware of their four possible paths: trade Betts now, trade him by July 31, let him play out the season and become a free agent, or sign him to an extension.

Some of those possibilities feel more likely than others, which is why we're here to apply some odds.

1. Trade him now: 55 percent

This still feels like the most probable course of action, given Betts' off-stated desire to reach free agency and the franchise's equivalent determination to get something for him before he leaves. Better to rip off that Band-Aid now, even if it means losing a little leg hair in the process.

Any team acquiring Betts needs to be able to fit his salary into its payroll, and that's more easily accomplished earlier in the offseason, especially since there's little chance the Red Sox contribute anything towards his salary. The optics of trading Betts are bad enough — paying someone else to take him would be inexcusable.

2. Trade him in July: 15 percent

There's some appeal to this approach, which gives the Red Sox a chance to make one final run with their Gold Glove- and Silver Slugger-winning right fielder, especially if the offers this winter prove underwhelming.

But there's one obvious flaw — what if July 31 arrives and the Red Sox find themselves in contention? At last year's trade deadline, for instance, a staggering 11 National League teams owned between 50 and 57 wins. Six of them could make legitimate cases for the wild card.

Good luck justifying a trade of your best player in that scenario, even if it's the right long-term move. Better to deal him now before putting new boss Chaim Bloom in that no-win situation.

3. Let him play out season: 20 percent

Former GM Theo Epstein used to bristle at the concept of trading a player before he could "walk away for nothing" by noting that a final season of All-Star production carries considerable value.

If the Red Sox can figure out how to absorb Betts' 2020 salary — perhaps by finding a taker for David Price and the $96 million remaining on his deal — there are worse problems to have than a lineup built around Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez.

If Chris Sale is healthy, that's a team that could win it all and then let whatever happens happen with Betts.

4. Extend him: 10 percent

It's sad that this feels like the least likely outcome, but we're just keeping it real.

There are two impediments to a long-term extension. One is Betts's aforementioned desire to hit the market and see what he's worth. The other is the very legitimate queasiness ownership might feel about extending anyone for more than 10 years.

That said, if Betts came to them with a reasonable number — say, 12 years and $340 million, slotting him between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout — there'd definitely be some in ownership pushing to get his signature to lock in the franchise cornerstone.

It doesn't feel like it's going to come to that, though, unless Betts experiences a change of heart about reaching free agency.

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Why Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke 'really liked' fake crowd noise at Fenway Park

Why Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke 'really liked' fake crowd noise at Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox experimented with fake crowd noise during Friday's intersquad scrimmage at Fenway Park, offering a preview of what the gameday experience might sound and look like once the 2020 MLB season gets underway.

The system is far from perfect and will continue to be tweaked, but so far, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke is a huge fan.

"I liked it a lot," Roenicke told reporters Friday. "Some real noise that will get better with the timing of it. But I think even the noise with nothing going on is really good. So they're experimenting with the loudness of it, what the natural crowd would sound like early in the game and what it would be when things are tied and there's excitement in it. I thought it was great. I think the players all liked it. At times it was a little loud, and they were experimenting with that. The players said it was a little harder to talk to each other on the field. But as soon as they dropped it back down, it was in a place that was good. I think it's going to create a lot of energy, so I really liked it."

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A totally silent stadium atmosphere would allow teams to hear what the opponents were saying and make strategy tougher, so Roenicke likes that his players and staff can communicate without the entire conversation being heard by everyone in the area.

"It's nice on our part to be able to have conversations and not have the other side hear it," Roenicke said. "And at times it's nice for us to make comments and not have the players hear what you're saying. If we're discussing, maybe, taking a starting pitcher out of a game. There's sometimes comments you make that you'd rather the players not hear that, so it's a benefit to have that noise there. And I've also noticed with these masks on, I don't have to cover my mouth when I'm talking at times, worried about the camera being on me, so that's a real good thing."

One thing the league will try to accomplish is making the crowd noise work for both teams. A scenario where only the home team benefits isn't going to work.

"It will vary from ballpark to ballpark," Roenicke explained. "I'm sure (the league) will have somebody here -- I guess I could say policing it -- making sure, for one, that it's fair for both sides. I'm sure we won't try to get carried away with the things we do. We were discussing it today, Tom Werner was out here, and we were making sure -- it can't all be just positive noise just for the home team. There has to be some kind of noise for the visiting side or when things go bad on our side, because really what happens is the crowd doesn't make a noise whether it's good or bad.

"So trying to make sure we don't do anything that's so one-sided that it's ridiculous, and no one wants it that way. I think that's got to be policed around the league. But everybody's got the opportunity to change those noises and get it to a place where they think it's going to help their team."

The fake crowd noise might be needed for the entire season. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker recently announced that the state's pro sports team can begin hosting games but without fans. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said late last month that he's "hopeful" fans will be able to attend games at Fenway Park this season, but he's not sure if it will happen at all. 

Former Red Sox Travis Shaw blasts potential fine for leaving Toronto bubble

Former Red Sox Travis Shaw blasts potential fine for leaving Toronto bubble

With baseball summer camps underway, players and teams are trying to navigate the challenges of staying healthy during a shortened 60-game MLB season.

For the Blue Jays, that involved needing to get special clearance from the Canadian government to hold workouts at Rogers Centre, and while there still hasn't been a decision on whether the Jays can play regular-season games at their home ballpark, it appears the Canadian government isn't fooling around with keeping the team's bubble intact — and former Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw isn't having it.

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Shaw responded to a tweet from TSN reporter Scott Mitchell, who stated that players spotted leaving the team's bubble of the stadium and the adjoining hotel would face a $750,000 fine along with potential jail time. 

According to CBC, Shaw also posted two more tweets which have since been deleted.

"1) Let me be clear. We are on board with the TWO week quarantine. I currently have a PAID for condo a block away from the stadium that I can't use. At no point would I risk public safety or not follow rules. Is it wrong to want to live in a place that I've already paid for..."

"2) to be able to go on a walk (WITH A MASK) to be able to get fresh air, walk to go get takeout food (not eat inside). We aren't looking to party, hit the patios, go out at night, anything like that. Public safety is priority number 1...."

Shaw wasn't the only player with a strong reaction to Mitchell's report. Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman, who played for the Jays from 2014-2019, suggested players might take a page out of the Bobby Valentine playbook to get out of the bubble.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to travel to Fenway Park for a pair of exhibition games on July 21 and 22 before opening the regular season in Tampa on July 24. Their first home game is scheduled for July 29, though that is still pending government approval.