The Red Sox made a pitch for Jose Bautista at the winter meetings

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According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Red Sox made “multiple offers” for Jose Bautista at last month’s winter meetings.

These conversations took place after Jayson Werth rocked the baseball world by signing with the Nationals and before the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford, but the addition of Bautista would have likely had a radical impact on Theo Epstein’s offseason plans. Alas, the talks apparently didn’t go very far.

Major league sources say the Red Sox “never got the sense” that the Blue Jays were serious about making a deal. Rosenthal reports that other clubs pursued Bautista, but that the Blue Jays preferred to keep him.

Bautista responded to the report tonight via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

“It’s all just rumors to me at this stage…who knows if any of it is true? There’s nothing for me to comment on yet.”

Bautista also said that he’s not disappointed that the Blue Jays have yet to approach him regarding a multi-year contract.

“Not upset at all. Everything will work itself out.”

Last season’s surprise home run king is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. He filed for $10.5 million and was offered $7.6 million from the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged last Tuesday. It’s increasingly likely that the two sides will head to a hearing next month.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Red Sox fans are just fine with the way this offseason has played out.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.