The Boston Red Sox are coming off a great 2021 season that culminated in a trip to the American League Championship Series.
The team has spent money this offseason, but not necessarily in places where fans and observers would have liked. Yet no top free-agent signings have been made thus far.
So, a legitimate question can be asked; is the Fenway Sports Group, which is the ownership group for the team, financially backing the 2022 Red Sox? Let’s take a look at this question.
The Boston Red Sox and their owner’s fickle nature
Fenway Sports Group also owns some other big time sports team, such as Liverpool FC in the English Premier League and the recently acquired Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League. Yet, it is unclear if they remain committed to the Boston Red Sox.
When the team hired Dave Dombrowski as its Vice President of baseball operations in August of 2015, Dombrowski did his job as expected. His efforts reaped the reward of a World Series championship in 2018.
Because he had gone all in to win that prize, he had used farm system and owner-allocated cash resources to help build the major league team. That’s getting the job done, no matter what his critics contend.
The following season did not go as expected however, and Dombrowski was eventually fired on September 9, 2019, less than a year after winning the World Series.
In came Chaim Bloom as Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer. Bloom shortly thereafter moved the team’s best player, Mookie Betts, in trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with another high salaried player, David Price, in a clear salary dump.
The mandate seemed clear, cut payroll, get under the luxury tax, and still win. That’s a tall order but Bloom, after 15 years with the Tampa Bay Rays, knows how to make do with less. Ironically, though perennially competitive, Tampa Bay has never won a World Series.
Bloom cut payroll, made the payroll tax go away, and finished in last place in 2020. A sterling 2021 with manager Alex Cora back at the helm helped right the ship, but is ownership ready to back Bloom to build on this toward a World Series now?
While it seems like resources are available, whether Bloom is spending them wisely is another question. Also, does he have the financial flexibility, luxury tax or no luxury tax, to sign top free agents?
Now, this is in no way countenances any of the ridiculous 10-year, $300M-type deals at all. These make no sense and usually fail.
Don’t offer them in free agency, and if your guys want that kind of deal, trade them away. Two of these deals may be on the horizon for Bloom.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers are the players. Forget monster deals for them or anyone else. If they won’t sign reasonable deals, trade them.
The Boston Red Sox should have signed Marcus Stroman and should sign Kyle Schwarber
Yet, two players who should have been on the Red Sox radar are/were not signed. One was a solid starting pitcher, Marcus Stroman, who signed a 3-year deal for $71M with the Chicago Cubs.
Stroman’s deal has an opt-out clause after the second season. Yet, two seasons of a top starter in his prime at $25M each is just fine even if he leaves.
These are exactly the type of deals that the team should be seeking. Shorter-term deals for a bit more annually for good players are the way to go.
The question is, does Bloom have the OK to make these deals from ownership or not? Or conversely, is he restricted to one-year show-me type deals for players who are on some sort of downside?
Who knows the answer. We’ll know more when the lockout ends.