Red Sox

One window the Red Sox probably won't open into a potential Mookie Betts trade

One window the Red Sox probably won't open into a potential Mookie Betts trade

Red Sox fans need no reminder of the havoc a negotiating window can wreak upon a potential trade.

In the winter of 2003, they were given 72 hours by commissioner Bud Selig to restructure the contract of Rangers superstar Alex Rodriguez, and the sides actually reached an agreement that would've sent the (then) future Hall of Famer to Boston before the union refused to allow the sport's marquee player to take a pay cut.

Sixteen years later, the Red Sox may very well swing a deal involving another MVP, but this time it's their own. And as they try to finagle the best package for Mookie Betts, it's fair to wonder if they'd be willing to allow the acquiring team to open a negotiating window with Betts on a long-term extension.

In today's information age, those windows aren't as common as they used to be. The Yankees granted one last January before sending right-hander Sonny Gray to Cincinnati, and the Reds used it to negotiate a three-year, $30.5 million extension, which paid off when Gray made the All-Star team.

The Cardinals, conversely, didn't even ask for one when acquiring slugger Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks last December, even though Goldschmidt was entering the final year of his contract and St. Louis wanted to extend him. He instead signed a five-year, $130 million extension during spring training.

"The belief is that we need to make a deal that we're comfortable with, whether he agrees to an extension or not," said Cardinals GM Mike Girsch. "It's not a two-part deal. It's got to be a stand-alone deal that you're comfortable with. We didn't ask and it wasn't part of our process.

"Everything that we knew and did research on Goldschmidt suggested that he was the type of guy who'd be comfortable in the type of environment that we have, in the location that we are. But we didn't know. We can't know. You can't talk to the player until you actually made the trade. But you can talk to his ex-teammates who are also ex-Cardinals. There are ways you can find out about somebody, and our sense was he was a guy who'd be comfortable in a midwestern city in a baseball-crazed market in a place that was competitive in the type of clubhouse environment we have. It all felt that we had a good shot at making this work, but until you meet him, you're never 100 percent sure."

The problem with granting a window is that it introduces too many potential headaches, especially in a world with 24-hour coverage putting breaking news just a smartphone alert or Ken Rosenthal tweet away. Any lag between completing a trade and negotiating a contract increases the possibility that the names of other players involved will leak, and if the negotiation collapses, it could result in hard feelings.

"Once you grab that 72-hour window, everything leaks out, it becomes a lot more complicated, and if you fail to reach an extension, the rumored players already have their names out there, and the potential issues that that creates have already arisen," said White Sox GM Rick Hahn. "The short answer is it's something we've asked for in the past and likely would ask for in the future, but it hasn't been too prevalent in recent years."

When the White Sox traded ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox in 2016, there was no need for negotiating windows because (a) Sale remained under contract through 2019, and (b) the Nationals were simultaneously offering a considerable prospect haul built around center fielder Victor Robles that left the White Sox in a position of power.

"It has become more and more rare because essentially teams have declined that request from most clubs and taken an approach almost like, 'Look, other teams are willing to do it without the window, so we're going to move him without the window,'" Hahn noted.

The whole idea of a window might not even apply to Betts, anyway, since he has repeatedly stated a desire to play out his contract and reach free agency. It's possible there's no offer he'd sign while limiting his negotiations to one club.

If it could increase the potential return, however, the Red Sox would at least have to consider it.

"If you're making a deal you're comfortable with, then you don't care whether he's going to sign," Girsch said. "It's just a whole separate negotiation. It just muddies the waters a lot of times and makes things more complicated if we make an agreement that's contingent on us making a separate agreement. And it's already hard enough to get an agreement done with the players involved. It just adds complexity."

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Merloni: Why Alex Cora could return as Red Sox manager in 2021

Merloni: Why Alex Cora could return as Red Sox manager in 2021

Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways last week as a result of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. But is there a chance he could return as Boston's manager in 2021?

That'll depend on the length of Cora's impending suspension. The ex-Red Sox skipper is expected to receive at least a one-year ban for his role in the Astros scandal, and it could exceed that if MLB finds wrongdoing by the 2018 Red Sox in their current investigation.

The Red Sox, though, believe they'll get off scot-free. If that's the case, Cora could be a managerial candidate again in 2021 and thus a reunion with Boston would be a possibility.

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Thursday on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight," Lou Merloni explained why it would make sense to hire an interim manager like bench coach Ron Roenicke for the 2020 season and then explore options -- potentially Cora -- next offseason.

To me, I don't think Chaim Bloom his first hire for a manager he goes out and hires the best of what's left ... The next manager, I don't think you want to just take what's best. You want to wait and, you know, that's why you want to go interim for a year, and then you look at a bigger pool. One that may include Alex Cora ... 

Cora's a longshot. But we've got to see what happens with the investigation. We've got to hear from him after the investigation. We've got to see how the summer goes, the PR, how Roenicke does. I think you say, 'Ron, you're the manager of the team. We'll re-evaluate at the end of the year, there's no promises, I'm not going to give you a four-year deal, and you'll be up for the job next year too. We'll see what happens.'

Given Cora's current reputation around the league for his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal, it's difficult to imagine the Red Sox bringing him back. However, owner John Henry reportedly had every intention of keeping Cora, so maybe it wouldn't be so farfetched after all.

Tomase: Handicapping the Red Sox managerial candidates

Lou Merloni: Red Sox 'believe they will [get off scot-free]'

Lou Merloni: Red Sox 'believe they will [get off scot-free]'

The Boston Red Sox are facing a lot of unexpected uncertainty at this stage in the offseason. The team fired their manager Alex Cora amid a sign-stealing scandal from his time with the Houston Astros. And now, they're searching for a replacement.

At this point in the offseason, there aren't a lot of options available. And most of the best candidates may come internally.

That said, the Red Sox will want to make sure that none of those internal candidates, namely Ron Roenicke, were involved in any sort of sign stealing during Cora's Red Sox tenure.

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And just how would they do that? Lou Merloni offered up a potential solution on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition on Thursday night.

"What you do is you don't even name the manager," Merloni said. "You go into spring training if you have to, whenever this investigation is over. Roenicke runs the team. [Jason] Varitek has more responsibility in camp.

"And when the report comes out -- and if it's what they believe it is, that they're clean -- then Roenicke's the manager, 'Tek's the bench coach and you go from there with no promises of the future and you just say this is the way we go. I think that's the easiest transition for everyone in that locker room."

This definitely would be a sensible route for the team to take. Essentially, they can have Roenicke continue to serve as the manager without officially naming him the manager until they know the results of the investigation.

And according to Merloni, the team does believe that Roenicke and other members of their staff are clean and as a result, the team won't be punished.

"I'm hearing that they believe they are [going to get off scot-free]," Merloni said. "They believe that what they're told is true and that they didn't do anything. And if they didn't do anything, there's no reason for punishment."

It's unclear exactly when the MLB's investigation will be complete, but this will certainly be something to watch moving forward. For the time being though, the Red Sox seem content to stick with what they have provided that everything comes back clean.