The Boston Red Sox said goodbye to Jason Bay today, and with a good dose of humor in some corners.
So what do the Red Sox do now? According to Gordon Edes at ESPN Boston, they are keeping a quiet dialogue going with agent Scott Boras about free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Now the Red Sox already have an expensive third baseman in Mike Lowell, and as much as Theo Epstein might wish otherwise, the deal sending Lowell to the Rangers did not go through. Of course, given the fallout after the trade fell apart, I’m not sure Epstein cares. It seems that Mike Lowell’s days in Boston are likely done.
But even if the Sox do simply dump Lowell, they will still have to pay him, and the Red Sox have shown no inclination to pay the luxury tax next season, further complicating matters.
The guess here is that Theo Epstein is simply letting Boras know he’s still interested, and that he’d like a phone call should Beltre’s asking price of $10-$15 million per year drop down to a more sensible level.
Beltre, by the way, would be a great fit at Fenway. Few third basemen are better than he is defensively, and one would expect his power numbers to gain at least a little boost by exchanging spacious Safeco for the Green Monster in left field.
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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?