UPDATE: Peter Abraham of the Globe just spoke to John Henry and he shot the Fox report down in no uncertain terms:
“A sale of any kind is so far from our thinking it hasn’t even come up apart from technical planning issues involving death or disability. This report is completely without foundation.
“Regarding unnamed sources: Any sale discussions that may have taken place were missing three key people — Larry (Lucchino), Tom (Werner) and me. The Sox and any of the other components of FSG are not for sale and will not be for the foreseeable future.”
Makes one wonder what the Fox report was based on. Maybe that estate planning stuff? Some hypothetical market research? God knows that in a day and age when the Dodgers sell for $2 billion that one might want to figure out what your team could bring you in a sale.
But yeah, that’s a pretty stark refutation.
11:33 AM: Earlier this year John Henry flatly denied rumors that he and his partners were looking to sell the Red Sox. Now this, from Fox Business Network:
The owners of the Boston Red Sox are mulling a potential sale of the storied baseball franchise, and have even begun quietly shopping the team to potential buyers, the FOX Business Network has learned.
It’s still a shopping, not a final decision to sell, FOX reports. And it has a lot to do about Fenway Sports Group’s desire and/or ability to run both the Sox and Liverpool FC, it’s English Premier League team. Both of which, by the way, have seen significant cost reductions and the dealing of players lately.
Harbinger of a sale, or just a business assessing its current position in light of recent setbacks?
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.