We know the Red Sox want to clear salary and reset their luxury tax penalties. They have exceeded the tax in each of the last two seasons, and the penalties get larger with each consecutive year. Whether or not you care about the team paying more taxes to the league for putting a winner on the field is up to you, but the owners clearly care. We have, of course, been inundated with Mookie Betts trade speculation for months now, but that type of move is looking less likely at this point.
Instead, it looks like David Price may be the guy to go. There have been growing whispers about the possibility of the veteran southpaw being dealt this winter, and on Tuesday Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that multiple teams are targeting him.
The Boston Red Sox continue to pursue ways to shed salary, and multiple teams have targeted starter David Price, sources tell ESPN. He is owed $96 million over the next three years. Red Sox could either attach player with value or potentially pay down some of Price's remaining $.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
I wrote about this earlier in the week, but I’ll hit a few quick bullet points here. If they insist on slashing salary — I will continue to fight against the perception this is the right thing to do, but ultimately I have no say in the matter — obviously this is a preferable move to trading Betts. At the same time, it also makes them worse for 2020. They would now have two rotation spots to fill, and given they aren’t really going to spend money to replace Price’s production there’s not many ways to keep the rotation at the same true-talent level.
Then, there’s the other part of the tweet. Passan points out that the Red Sox are either going to have to eat part of the salary or attach another player with value. Most of the speculation has been around Andrew Benintendi, but that hasn’t really been reported as something that has actually been discussed. Either way, you’re shooting yourself in the foot even more. Either you’re not clearing all that much salary and you have to do more to damage your 2020 roster to get under the luxury tax or you’re getting under the tax with this deal but also giving up a valuable piece.
Like I said, if the decision is between Price and Betts, the choice is obvious. No one in their right mind would argue that. The point is that it’s only a decision because they are saying it is. We live in two worlds: The one where we have to live with their self-imposed restrictions and the one where they put their unimaginable revenues and wealth into the team, regardless of penalties. It’s important to acknowledge both, even if only one is real.
For now, nothing has happened on this front, but we’ll of course keep you posted if and when that may change.