I’m among the people confused by Boston’s move to dump Marco Scutaro and his $6 million salary on the Rockies for a marginal minor leaguer in Clayton Mortensen, in part because Scutaro was hardly overpaid and in part because the Red Sox’s in-house options to replace him at shortstop are so underwhelming.
It still doesn’t make much sense to me, but Alex Speier of WEEI.com offers a few details that explain the situation somewhat.
For instance, Speier notes that because of the wording of Scutaro’s contract the Red Sox would have taken a sizable luxury tax hit if they’d simply declined his 2012 option, so instead they exercised the option and then dumped him on the Rockies (who have no such luxury tax concerns).
There’s been plenty of speculation that the Red Sox shed Scutaro’s salary in order to make a run at Roy Oswalt and in the meantime they sliced nearly $8 million in money as it’s counted against the luxury tax. Speier reports that the Rockies were the only team willing to take on Scutaro’s entire salary.
As for why they’d trade Scutaro without having a good shortstop replacement waiting in the wings–particularly after parting with Jed Lowrie earlier this offseason–Speier points to the fact that he’s 36 years old, somewhat injury prone, and perhaps declining defensively. And for now at least the Red Sox feel more comfortable than you might expect with a time share between Mike Aviles and Nick Punto.
Whether or not all that adds up to the Scutaro salary dump being a smart move by the Red Sox is another issue–I’d still vote no, certainly–but at least it makes a little more sense than it did at the time.