Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Other 'Elephant In The Room' As The Red Sox Get Under The Luxury Tax

We're all well aware of the obvious danger of Red Sox ownership getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold: trading away a franchise player like Mookie Betts. But there is another looming negative after they jump through MLB's financial hoops and drop below the salary equivalent of the 'Mendoza Line'. Once they get under $208, they're not adding anything of value to the roster. No top-level acquisitions of any kind can afford to be made—so no real upgrade to the bullpen, no bolstering of the bench (assuming they let Brock Holt and the other free agents walk), no addition to the starting rotation (which was the biggest disappointment of 2019). Now, some of these roster holes would likely be filled by players to be returned to Boston in any big trade—but do you really get the sense that ownership cares about anything else but the luxury tax issue? Now, to be fair, getting below $208 million is the prudent thing to do—re-setting the tax level they've struggled with the last three years (and an even worse burden going forward). But, come on, this is the Red Sox—and John Henry has plenty of dough. Ownership may be mis-reading the fan base—they will not tolerate a "Bridge Year 2.0". Hopefully Chaim Bloom is creative enough to shed the payroll and still field a truly competitive team in 2020. Otherwise, the natives will quickly get restless. Be warned!