John Henry, a man worth $2.2 billion dollars, traded away the second-best player in baseball during the prime of his career. Don’t let anyone tell you this is a good deal – it isn’t. Players like Mookie Betts come around once in a generation, and John Henry opted to trade away this generational talent for no reason other than greed. If you think this trade was justified because the Red Sox needed to clear payroll or because Betts wouldn’t re-sign, you’re wrong. The only reason the Red Sox traded away Mookie is that John Henry is a cheap, arrogant owner with absolutely no foresight.
John Henry Failed the Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts
As of this posting, the Red Sox are expected to receive Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol in exchange for Betts and David Price. This trade is a blatant salary dump, as nobody would ever argue that Verduga is anywhere near as good as Betts. The Red Sox had one of the highest payrolls in baseball, and John Henry would like you to think that he had to do this to stay under the luxury tax.
Unfortunately for Henry, there is absolutely nothing to back up that ridiculous notion. Unlike most major sports, baseball doesn’t have any sort of meaningful salary cap. In football, contracts are automatically voided if you cross a certain financial threshold. If baseball used that same type of system, then one could easily justify not investing this much money in one player. However, the only penalty for passing the luxury tax line is a small fine.
Last year, the Red Sox eclipsed the luxury tax line for the second straight season and had to pay a $13 million dollar fine. While $13 million dollars is a lot for you and me, it’s essentially nothing for a man worth literally billions of dollars running an organization which brings in over $500 million every single year. That $13 million fine was the largest in major league history and is still less than Rusney Castillo’s annual salary. Castillo, for those who don’t know, currently plays in Pawtucket and hasn’t been in the major leagues since 2016.
Anyone using money as an excuse for this move should stop giving a free pass to a billionaire. He can afford whatever he wants, and, as the owner, should be doing everything in his power to make the Red Sox as competitive as humanly possible. However, he clearly valued his 22nd beach house more than the best interest of the Boston Red Sox.
And while we're here, the fact that a baseball team that charges $30 for standing room is crying poor on keeping a 27-year-old that's won an MVP and a title is a little pathetic.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 5, 2020
The Red Sox Could Keep Mookie Betts
One of the worst narratives in the world is that Mookie Betts didn’t want to stay in Boston. According to Henry supporters, Betts turning down a 10-year, $300 million contract was proof that he didn’t want to stay in Boston. However, once again, facts disprove this argument pretty easily.
It’s hard for most people to imagine, but Mookie Betts is worth far more than $300 million dollars. Betts has a genuine claim as the best non-Mike Trout player in baseball, and inferior players have received far larger payouts. Last offseason, Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal while Manny Machado took a $300 million deal of his own. Betts is easily better than those two and should easily see more money than both of those players.
If Betts really wanted to stay out of Boston, he wouldn’t have made a counter-offer of 12 years and $420 million. The Red Sox obviously weren’t going to match this figure, but the fact Betts even gave them a chance shows that he would come back if the money is right. Betts is going to go to the highest bidder in 2020, and there’s no reason for the Red Sox to be outbid.
Hilariously Poor Planning
It is possible to build a championship contender on a low budget, but you need to be smart with how you divide your resources. However, John Henry has the planning skills of a baboon and was remarkably reckless with his money. Less than one year ago, Henry decided to shell out a combined $212.5 million dollar for an average of $45.88 million per year to Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi.
Both players had major red flags and had no business getting extensions if Henry had plans of slashing payroll. Evoaldi was coming off a genuinely amazing postseason run and was one of the biggest reasons for Boston’s 2018 World Series title. However, he never proved capable of staying healthy for an extended period of time. To the surprise of nobody, Eovaldi spent most of the 2019 season on the injured list and spent the back half of the season pitching out of the bullpen.
Sale is one of the best pitchers of his time but showed clear signs of slowing down. Even in the prime of his career, Sale never demonstrated an ability to pitch at a high level deep into the season. Sale came out of the gate (relatively) slow in 2018, and rumors swirled that the Red Sox made Sale change his grip to minimize strain on his shoulder. Sale eventually returned to his old ways and looked like his old self…before suffering a shoulder injury in July. The lefty returned for the postseason but didn’t look anything like his dominant self.
Most pitchers tend to fall off a cliff after hitting 30, and Sale showed more warning signs than most. Nobody would have blamed Henry for waiting until after 2019 to extend Sale, yet Henry ignored all the warning signs and approved a massive extension.
In short, everything about the current state of the Red Sox is John Henry’s fault. The billionare owner decided to cheap out on the greatest homegrown talent since Ted Williams despite handing out massive contracts to undeserving players less than one year ago.
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