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Red Sox lose mentor, longtime exec Allard Baird to Mets

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Red Sox lose mentor, longtime exec Allard Baird to Mets

BOSTON — The Mets have plucked away one of the longest tenured members of the Red Sox front office, Allard Baird, who has been a mentor to many.

Baird is headed to New York as an assistant general manager and vice president of scouting and player development. He was hired in Boston originally by Theo Epstein, and was formerly the general manager of the Royals.

"Theo brought me over here in 2006 and I've been fortunate enough to be a part of two World Series,"  Baird said back in spring training, "and I'd like another one this year."

He got his wish. 

Baird has long made it a point to help elevate and mentor those around him.

Jared Porter, the Diamondbacks assistant GM who used to work for the Red Sox, this year recalled a story of another longtime baseball person, Bill Lajoie, telling him how fortunate he was to be working with Baird

"He called me one time, he’s like, 'You’re working for Allard, right?'" Porter remembered. "'I don’t think you know how lucky you are. There aren’t many people in this game that really care and like to develop younger people.'"

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Baird was in charge of what seems a relatively unique set-up with the Sox. The Red Sox have dedicated staff for scouting international professional players in countries such as Korea, Japan and Mexico. With most organizations, those scouts who see pro players abroad also handle international amateur scouting as well.

“I don’t think all clubs do it this way, for sure,” Baird said in an interview this year. “But I do think this falls in line with an organization that is aggressive and that takes the approach of exploring all the avenues in hope to add more assets to its talent pool, really I think that’s what it comes down to.”

Baird was around when the Sox started working this way.

“Ben [Cherington] is the person, at that time, he just said that he wanted to, when he took over, he really wanted to try to be more aggressive in emerging markets,” Baird said. “And at that time, Cuba was an area that he wanted focus in on.”

That department headed up the signing Hector Velazquez, as a recent example. 

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How Bobby Bonilla Day can save MLB's ongoing salary dispute

How Bobby Bonilla Day can save MLB's ongoing salary dispute

If baseball wants to solve its impasse over player compensation during the pandemic, here's a thought — make Bobby Bonilla Day a holiday.

Bonilla is the former Mets slugger who struck an incredible deal as his career wound to a close.

In exchange for waiving the final $5.9 million he was owed in 2000, Bonilla agreed to receive 25 payments of roughly $1.19 million every July 1 from 2011 through 2035.

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Why trade $6 million in 2000 for nearly $30 million later? Because Mets owner Fred Wilpon intended to invest the money with Bernie Madoff, whose funds consistently delivered massive returns. We now know Madoff was running the world's biggest Ponzi Scheme, and when his $64 billion fraud collapsed in 2008, it took hundreds of millions of Wilpon's money with it.

What's bad for him was good for Bobby Bo, however. Every summer, the six-time All-Star receives a check for over a million dollars, payments that will continue until he's 72. (The Mets, it should be noted, also agreed to make 25 annual $250,000 payments to Bret Saberhagen for similar reasons, starting in 2004.)

Here's where the current contentiousness enters the picture.

The owners want the players to take a massive pay cut in exchange for a season, arguing they can't afford to play in empty ballparks without salary concessions. The players don't want to return a penny, and in fact hope to play more than the proposed 82 games to make as much of their prorated salaries as possible.

One solution is deferrals. The players agree to put off some portion of their earnings, allowing ownership to maintain cash flow in the short term before the game's economics hopefully stabilize in the future.

And what better day to do it than Bobby Bonilla Day? Every July 1 starting next year, the players can receive a portion of their 2020 salary. Maybe it's paid in installments over three to five years, or maybe it's a lump sum.

However it's done, it could represent a meaningful olive branch from the players and a signal that they're willing to compromise in these unprecedented times.

The value for the owners is clear, because Wilpon isn't the only one who sees the allure of deferrals. The World Series champion Nationals prefer them as a rule, deferring not only $105 million of Max Scherzer's $210 million contract, but even $3 million of the $4 million they gave reliever Joe Blanton in 2017.

With players and owners at each other's throats, it could be disarming to invoke one of the game's stranger annual curiosities. And if it helps us play baseball in 2020, there's also this: Open the season on July 1 and make Bobby Bonilla Day, for one year anyway, a national holiday.

Who are the best right fielders in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best right fielders in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Corner outfielders for the Red Sox have vastly different responsibilities. 

While left fielders have to learn how to play with the Green Monster at their backs, right fielders are tasked with covering an immense amount of ground with some quirky angles —duties which require not just a mobile defender, but a fearless one. A strong arm helps, too, lest the turnstiles between first and third just spin all game.

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Fortunately for the Red Sox, there have been no shortage of exceptional right fielders over the years, including a number who didn't make our top five, like Dirt Dog Trot Nixon; postseason heroes J.D. Drew and Shane Victorino; and Earl Webb, whose 67 doubles in 1931 remain one of the longest-standing single-season records in the game.

The final list includes a Hall of Famer, two MVPs, a hometown hero, and one of the franchise's longest tenured stars.

Click here for the Top 5 right fielders in Red Sox history.