Mariners trade Seth Smith to the Orioles for Yovani Gallardo

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We interrupt this slow news week with an actual trade. Of major leaguers, each of which play for teams with at least plausible cases for contention!

Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Mariners have traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for right handed starter Yovani Gallardo. There is also some cash going from Baltimore to Seattle in the deal.

Gallardo, who will turn 31 before the season, started 23 games for Baltimore in 2016, going 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 85/61 in 118 innings. It was easily the worst season he’s had in the majors and came after a 2015-16 offseason in which Baltimore expressed concern about his shoulder. He missed some time in the middle of the season with tendinitis in that shoulder. He is entering the second year of a two-year contract on which he will be plaid $11 million this season. There is a club option for 2018 at $13 million with a $2 million buyout. When he first signed with the O’s it was for three years but Baltimore restructured it into a two-year deal after encountering some concerns in his physical so, yeah, a lot of red flags here about the health of that shoulder.

Smith, a lefty who is 34, put up a pretty typical Seth Smith season in 2016, hitting 249/.342/.415 with 16 homers and 63 RBI, with almost all of his damage and work coming against right handed pitchers. Smith is on a club option for 2017, exercised by the Mariners in November, which will pay him $7 million, after which he is a free agent.

For the Mariners, it’s some pitching depth and the hope for a bounceback year for Gallardo, who was excellent in 2015 with the Rangers. For the O’s, one half of a platoon that can serve as Mark Trumbo insurance, I suppose, as their free agent corner outfielder/DH is likely going to walk in free agency.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.