Sam Kennedy

$208 million payroll is 'a goal, not a mandate' for Red Sox in 2020

$208 million payroll is 'a goal, not a mandate' for Red Sox in 2020

BOSTON — Takeaways from the season wrap-up at Fenway Park on Monday that included CEO Sam Kennedy, manager Alex Cora, and the Gang of Four running baseball operations . . .

— There was a fair amount of backtracking from John Henry's contention last week that the Red Sox would like to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold and reset the team's penalty schedule. Kennedy and assistant GMs Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran each sounded the same theme.

"It's a goal, not a mandate," Kennedy said.

That said, with big-market powerhouses like the Dodgers and Yankees managing to find their way under the threshold in recent seasons — the Red Sox dropped below it themselves as recently as 2017 — the Red Sox see no reason why they can't get creative with their payroll and do the same.

— One player who wouldn't appear to fit under that plan is defending MVP Mookie Betts, who ended up putting together a pretty decent follow-up campaign, all things considered. Kennedy acknowledged the challenges of keeping him long-term, but made it clear the team will try.

The same goes for slugging DH J.D. Martinez. Kennedy was asked if there's a way to keep both of them and remain under $208 million.

"Yes, there's a way," he said. "There's a way. But obviously, it will be difficult."

— Cora has not made any decisions on his coaching staff yet, but after winning only 84 games, sounded like someone preparing to move in a different direction.

"I don't know what kind of changes we're going to make," he said, adding that all of the coaches will be in town for meetings before any decisions are made.

— Left-hander Chris Sale still isn't throwing, on advice of the medical staff, as the Red Sox take his recovery slowly. Originally scheduled for a six-week followup with Dr. James Andrews, the two sides haven't yet scheduled that visit.

"At this point we expect him to be healthy coming into spring training along with the rest of the rotation that we have under control," O'Halloran said.

As for neither Sale nor fellow left-hander David Price making themselves available to reporters over the final month of the season despite interest in their respective rehabs, Cora said he would've preferred that they talk.

But he also recognizes that "it gets to the point with them where they're so frustrated with what's going on."

Bogaerts' thoughts on losing teammates over upcoming offseason>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Report: Red Sox front office perceived as 'miserable place to work'

Report: Red Sox front office perceived as 'miserable place to work'

With Dave Dombrowski out as Red Sox president of baseball operations, who will be the team's next general manager? 

It seems like a desirable job: the team consistently has one of the top payrolls in the league, and the franchise has won four World Series titles in the last 16 seasons. But it's not that simple. Not even close.

The last two men in charge of baseball operations — Ben Cherington and Dombrowski — were shown the door quickly after winning championships, and those moves are painting the Red Sox in a very bad light, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

These decisions loosely frame the industry perception of the Red Sox as a chaotic company, a miserable place to work. Boston owner John Henry needs to understand this, because it is why some of the people he'd probably love to consider as possible replacements for Dombrowski privately dismiss the idea out of hand.

Olney writes that some potential candidates have no interest in working for Henry, because they "doubt he'd have the patience to back his next general manager through the difficult crossroads ahead." That includes the impending free agency of Mookie Betts, a potential opt-out from J.D. Martinez, and an expensive rotation fraught with injuries, among other issues.

The key to a successful leadership transition in the front office might be Sam Kennedy, who has been the team's president for four years following the departure of Larry Lucchino. As Olney explains:  

A wide-held view in other front offices is that the highly respected and well-liked Red Sox president Sam Kennedy stands as a thin buffer between the team devolving to the level of the Mets, the team generally regarded by rival executives as baseball's model for dysfunction. "If Sam ever walked away," said one official, "the whole thing would be a complete mess."

From a 108-win season and a World Series to the possibility of becoming a complete mess, it's amazing how quickly the tide has turned for the Red Sox.

TOMASE: Why Theo Epstein could be the man for the job>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Why Red Sox avoided press conference after Dave Dombrowski firing

Why Red Sox avoided press conference after Dave Dombrowski firing

The Red Sox fired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on the night of the Patriots' season opener, released a brief statement to announce the move, and didn't hold a press conference to discuss the matter further.

As a result, manager Alex Cora was unfairly forced to take all questions related to Dombrowski when it should have been ownership taking accountability for their own actions.

Needless to say, it was a puzzling way to handle the sudden firing of a team official. On Tuesday, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" to try to explain why the organization decided against holding a formal press conference.

"We just knew it would have been a wholly unsatisfactory experience given that we’re just not going to expand on the statements we provided yesterday," Kennedy said. "I understand the desire for one and the frustration for not having one, but given that we’re not going to expand on what we said in our press statement it just wouldn’t have been satisfactory to anyone.

"Instead, we spent the day yesterday focusing entirely on internal communication. John Henry, Tom Werner, myself, spent the day meeting with the players, everybody in the clubhouse, staff, the baseball operations department and our larger front office and we go on from there. It was a difficult 48 hours but we’re moving forward."

Kennedy admitted in hindsight throwing Cora to the wolves was an unwise decision on the Red Sox brass' part.

"There is no question Alex was in a bad spot and we definitely regret that," Kennedy said. "I said that at the outset. The nature of baseball he’s required to do those two availabilities pre and postgame. We regret that."

Kennedy went on to say despite the outcry, the team still doesn't plan on holding a press conference and instead John Henry and Tom Werner will address the move "in their own way and time."

With the 2019 season nearing its end, the Red Sox now are tasked with finding a replacement for Dombrowski as they move closer to being eliminated from playoff contention.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.