Mookie Betts on the Trade Block?

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I find it weird that this even a question, but here we are! Multiple reports have come out over the last few days about the Red Sox entertaining the idea about trading one of the game’s premier players, Mookie Betts. When I first heard this, I thought the notion of the Red Sox even considering putting Betts on the trade block was absolutely bananas. Why would you trade the face of the franchise, who is just about to hit his prime and is already one of the best players in baseball?

Well, you have to ask yourself, how the heck did we get here?trade block

Earlier this year Mookie Betts turned down an 8 year $200 million contract to stay in Boston. If you’re Mookie it makes sense considering you saw Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado get huge pay increases with their new contracts. Mookie isn’t stupid. He knows he’s better than Machado and Harper and is nipping at the heels of Mike Trout in terms of production. I’m sure if the Red Sox offered something north of $300 million Mookie might have considered giving in and agreeing to that sort of deal.

 

However, that is where the next issue lies, payroll. The Red Sox have the highest payroll in baseball and, if you haven’t noticed, are a bit strapped for cash. I guess making upgrades to the bullpen in the offseason is tough when you’re allocating almost $19 million to Pablo Sandoval for literally just existing at this point. It also doesn’t help that they owe Dustin Pedroia (who only has one functioning knee) almost $30 million over the next two years. David Price isn’t getting any younger either and is owed roughly $90 million over the next three years. In addition to these poorly managed and dead money contracts, the Red Sox used some additional payroll flexibility to sign Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts to long term deals.

I know I’m playing captain hindsight right now, but the less frivolous spending would have given the Red Sox a bit more flexibility to lock in one of the best players in baseball. Now, by trading Betts, I can only imagine they could use the assets to bolster a depleted farm system and maybe add some depth to their pitching staff.

Keeping Mookie Long Term? Or Is The Trade Block In His Future?

If the Red Sox somehow sign Betts to a massive contract, I don’t know where else they will be able to improve the rest of the team? The Red Sox can print money all they want, but being at the top of the payroll in baseball means you are subject to a high luxury tax. Now, if you want to pay that type of luxury tax, fine, but make sure you actually stay competitive and not pretend like everything’s okay (I’m looking at you, Dombrowski).

Let’s just hope both sides figure things out and are able to come to a common ground to benefit the team and the player. I want Mookie Betts to retire in a Red Sox uniform and have number 50 retired with the likes of Ortiz, Martinez, Williams, Fisk, Yaz, Boggs, etc. However, I also want this team to be competitive in the future.

J.D. Martinez is Turning Into One of Boston’s Best Signings Ever

In November of 2015, David Ortiz announced that the 2016 season would be his last. The long and treasured career of Boston’s beloved designated hitter will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Red Sox Nation, and his retirement left the Red Sox in a very unfamiliar position. For the first time since Ortiz joined the lineup in the 2003 season, the Sox were without a trusted power bat. The 2017 season gave us no answers, with Boston finishing 27th in home runs and 26th in slugging percentage. Now, a little over a quarter of the way through 2018, I think we have an answer. His name is J.D. Martinez, signed to a five-year, $110 million contract this past offseason. Not only has he answered this question, but J.D. Martinez has emerged as one of the best free agent signings in Red Sox history.

I know it’s still early. Martinez is not even halfway through his first season with the Red J.D. MartinezSox, and this could be premature. But I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. In 46 games, Martinez ranks second in the MLB in home runs (15), runs batted in (41), slugging percentage (.674), and OPS (1.073). He would lead the American League in batting average, slugging percentage, and home runs if it weren’t for teammate Mookie Betts.

J.D. Martinez In Comparison

Looking back on Boston’s major free agent signings, the track record is less than ideal. And failing to produce or live up to expectations in Boston is a proven formula for failure. Names like Pablo Sandoval, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez come to mind.

I don’t need to go into detail on Sandoval, as that disaster is still fresh in the minds of this city. You may have managed to erase Carl Crawford from your memory by now. But let’s not forget his 7-year, $142 million monster of a contract that gave Boston fans so much hope after years of dealing with him in Tampa Bay. And now? Among the biggest busts in the history of the Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez actually played well in his one full season with the Red Sox, but never quite fulfilled the expectations surrounding him. The list goes on and on. John Lackey, Rusney Castillo, and Josh Beckett join the list of players that never quite lived up to their price tag. Quick note of appreciation to the Los Angeles Dodgers for liberating us from Crawford, Gonzalez, and Beckett.

But now it’s time to forget all of that and relish in the present. J.D. Martinez is hitting as well as anyone in the MLB, and is currently on pace to break his home run record for a season. Paired with fellow slugger Mookie Betts atop the Red Sox order, Martinez has found, and embraced, his role in this lineup. And he’s earning every bit of his paycheck.

The formula to succeed as a Boston athlete has become pretty simple over the years. Just do your job. And Martinez is doing it as well as anyone.

I’m Losing My Patience With David Price

On December 7, 2015, the Boston Red Sox inked David Price to a seven-year, $217 million dollar contract. And Red Sox Nation rejoiced, myself included. Was it justified? Of course it was. Price, a 3-time All-Star, and 2012 Cy Young Award recipient was one of the best starting pitchers on the free agent market at the time. Zack Greinke was the other, and recently hired general manager Dave Dombrowski had his sights set on bringing an ace to his new ballclub.

He did just that. Boston’s new GM, notorious for flashy transactions, signed the 29-year-David Priceold southpaw to the most lucrative deal for a starting pitcher in MLB history. David Price’s extravagant contract, with a $31 million annual salary, was also the largest deal in franchise history and seemed to fill Boston’s vacancy at Ace for years to come.

At the time, rolling out the Brinks truck for Price made sense. A lot of sense. The Sox were on the heels of two straight last-place finishes in the AL East, and the recent acquisitions of Dombrowski and closer Craig Kimbrel marked a new era of baseball in Beantown.

Now fast forward three years. Price, now 32 and in the third year of his contract, missed his last start after getting diagnosed with what the team called “a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome”. It wasn’t just any start though. It was game two in a road series against the Yankees with the division lead, and the MLB’s best record, at stake. And it wasn’t just any diagnosis either. There is significant speculation that it may be related to excessive time spent playing video games, namely Fortnite.

Price has since said that the setback is unrelated to his gaming habits and that he will stop playing Fortnite in the clubhouse. Manager Alex Cora showed his support by downplaying the notion as well, and they are likely correct from a medical standpoint. However, the speculation alone is frustrating enough. Video games should not be in conversations about $217 million dollar pitchers missing starts against division rivals.

David Price is a Repeat Offender

Now, if this was the first or even second blemish on Price’s tenure, it would be a different story. But that is far from the case. The tingling sensation in Price’s hands, which led to his recent diagnosis, also forced him out of a game in April. Which, coincidence or not, was also against the New York Yankees.

And we all know about his conflict with Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley last season, where he cursed at the Hall of Fame pitcher and refused to apologize in the aftermath. Price went on to go 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 2017 and finished the season in a relief role. He has started 2018 with a 2-4 record and a 5.11 ERA in seven starts. He threw a limited bullpen on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s start. Cora is hopeful that Price will be ready for his next scheduled start on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

David Price keeps finding ways to make headlines, but not for the right reasons. Frustration is growing towards Boston’s controversial pitcher, and patience is shrinking. It’s time for Price to start making headlines on the field and regain the form that the Red Sox paid $217 million dollars for.

 

David Ortiz Agrees To Extension

david ortiz agrees to extension

The Red Sox announced on Sunday night they have signed designated hitter David Ortiz to a one-year, $16 million extension. The deal will extend the slugger’s current contract through the 2015 season.

The extension also includes a vesting option for the 2016 season, based on plate appearances, and a club option for the 2017 season. Ortiz will receive a $1 million bump over his 2014 salary and now stands to end the rampant speculation as to if/when the Red Sox and the nine-time All-Star would reach an agreement regarding his future.

“With this agreement, we have near certainty that David Ortiz will finish his career in a Red Sox uniform, which is something we have all wanted and that we are all proud of,” said owner John Henry. “It is difficult to describe David’s contributions to our city both on the field and off the field, and we are so proud to have this ambassador of our game with us as he continues on this road to Cooperstown.”

Money Well Spent?

There has been a strong undercurrent to the yearly Ortiz contract saga questioning whether or not signing a designated hitter, at such an advanced age, is worth it. The Sox have had their fair share of detractors when they inked Ortiz to a two-year $30 million deal at the end of the 2012 season.

The arguments have merits on both fronts. Typically, multi-year deals given to aging players end poorly and, signing a DH-only, limits a ball club’s roster flexibility.

That all sounds great in theory, but David Ortiz is not your typical player and not your typical DH. By all accounts, Ortiz is paid largely on past performances. Ortiz has played a large part in molding this era of Red Sox baseball. As a three-time world champion, an ambassador for the game and pillar within the community, Ortiz’s value to the organization transcends the everyday box score.

The Sox have access to resources that most clubs simply cannot match. Ortiz has carried the team to three World Series crowns and is still largely motivated to win. A winning attitude and an overwhelming desire to be the best at your position is not something that money can buy.

In 2013, Ortiz hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI over 137 regular-season games and continued his torrid pace batting .353 with five homeruns, 13 RBI and a 1.206 OPS over 16 postseason games.

Over the last three seasons, David Ortiz has averaged 26 homeruns, 86 RBI, and a .311 batting average. Money well spent.